Each week, some of the produce donated to the Durham Community Food Pantry (DCFP) may be old, or not suitable to be distributed to the public. The DCFP works with community partners to dispose of this unusable food in a way that reduces costs for the pantry while having a positive environmental impact. One such partner is Lewis, who uses food that can’t be distributed as chicken feed and to create soil compost!

In addition to being a gifted local musician, Lewis is a sustainability focused Durham farmer who has turned his backyard into a diverse array of herbs and produce, many of which are native plants. His backyard is also home to about 10 chickens.

His chickens are not fed the typical manufactured feed; he picks up produce compost for the DCFP three times a week and feeds the rotten tomatoes and cantaloupe – which can no longer be distributed- directly to his chickens. As the produce breaks down, it attracts insects and worms that the birds enjoy eating.

Not only is this a cheaper alternative to chicken feed for Lewis, but it also reduces his environmental impact since greenhouse gases are released during the production of chicken feed. Recently, his chickens quickly devoured an entire truck full of watermelons in two days!

Additionally, with the help of his chickens, he produces compost with the food waste. He uses the compost for his own crops.

Together the DCFP and Lewis are working to reduce their impact on the environment and serve the community in the best way possible.