Kiera Bulan

As the Sustainability Manager for the City of Asheville, what are some of the projects you’re working on?

So many different areas! Our department focuses on four main “buckets” of work with plenty of collaborative projects living under each. Our primary buckets are: Climate, Energy, Food, and Waste Reduction. Within those areas we focus on both internal operations and community-facing initiatives. Some key activities this year: With our Climate Justice Initiative we’re working to refine, share, and co-create climate actions, conversations, and data to support neighborhood and climate resilience. We use a Climate Justice Data Map for internal operations (but it’s also available to the community). We’re also in a current phase of community listening and conversation sparks to build up a revised personal climate resource guide!

What is Food Waste Reduction Month and how can people participate?

April is Food Waste Reduction Month! Beginning in 2021 the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have been proactively working to engage and inform residents of the important climate impacts of food waste reduction. Through our food scraps drop-off program (eight sites around the city and county where residents can drop off their organic matter) and hosting formal and informal educational and networking events in collaboration with Food Waste Solutions WNC, we encourage residents to take action to be mindful of the waste they’re creating and to compost what scraps they create. Our website has info on how to backyard compost as well as info on how to sign up for the (free!) city and county program to drop off your food scraps at locations around town.

Follow @wncfoodwaste for more ideas on how to participate next month!

April is also the month many farmers markets start opening in our area. How can shopping locally go hand in hand with reducing food waste?

So many ways! Fresher food lasts longer, and food can’t be any fresher than straight from our local farmers. When residents are thoughtfully purchasing fresh food there’s a good chance that more of those products will go right where they belong, into our meals and bodies. Additionally, so many farmers markets and brilliant farmers offer value adds like tips and tricks on what to do with these market gems, so customers are less at risk for purchasing something and forgetting about it in the back of the fridge. Shoppers come home inspired and cook up that good food!

Do you have favorite recipes or tricks for using up lots of leftover greens? (At this time of year, it’s usually greens, right?)

Greens, yes! Or storage crops… Most of my go to’s around any food on the brink is soup! But that’s especially true of greens. I love a sausage, tomato, kale soup. I use last year’s tomatoes fresh from the freezer. I’m lazy, so I freeze them whole and defrost them in a bowl of hot water. Then some nice bulk sausage fried up with all the aromatics—onions, garlic, maybe some ginger if you’re feeling spicy, along with an ample dose of oregano and some thyme. Yum! Also, storage crops are still so good. Some farmers are diggin’ up their fall-planted sweetest of sweet carrots, which of course are best fresh. But those carrot tops can join potato peels, onion, and garlic skins, greens ribs, and any other “scraps” in a big old stock pot to simmer for a few hours and then can be frozen in ice cube trays to have instant veggie stock for your next cooking project. THEN you can compost those scraps!

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