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Food & Hunger

This Man Gives Away Free Veggies to Anyone Who Wants Them In Montreal


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals campaign to achieve zero hunger, including universal access to safe and nutritious food. Initiatives like "The Shareocracy of the Future" are great ways to help people access healthy food. You can take action on issues that affect food and hunger here.

It’s not uncommon to see vendors selling produce from street stalls or farmers’ markets in cities across the country. But on a blanket off Lachine Canal in Montreal, one man is laying it all out for free.

In an attempt to create a “genuine culture of sharing,” Ben Williams displays fresh produce that is 100% free to anyone who wants it.

“All we really need is people who care about us, food and shelter — and food comes from the ground and it is actually free,” Williams told CBC. “We made life more complicated than we had to.”

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The 35-year-old lays out his produce with a sign that reads “The Shareocracy of the Future.” He started this project last year while working on a farm just outside the city.

He lived there rent-free and took vegetables as his salary. He’d eat what he needed and then give away the rest in a park in Montreal. He did this until the end of October last year, when he realized he could do more with a salary of $400 per week, according to CBC.

He saved his pay in the lead up to harvest season. By mid-July, he was buying $500 of vegetables every week, laying it all out under a tree off the canal’s bike path.

Williams takes the time to explain his idea for a culture of sharing to the people who walk by or visit his display. He believes that people can break away from consumerism.

“There's no obligation, expectation or judgment on anyone. The idea is that, in a genuine culture of sharing, people share because they grew up in a culture of sharing,” he said.

It’s also a way for residents to access produce they might not otherwise have been able to afford.

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The vision was well received in Montreal.

“[It] makes me feel positive about the world, because I can see people really do care," Williams said.

Now, he wants to take this idea across the country. He plans to couch surf and work on farms across Canada and has the goal of settling and displaying free produce somewhere new by 2020.

The idea is not to promote bartering or trading, but specifically sharing.

Urban farms, zero-waste and pay-what-you-can grocery stores are among several new, innovative concepts aimed at limiting food waste and reducing hunger — but Williams’ idea goes one step further in promoting a culture of sharing instead.

People have not only been interested by this, but are actually starting a sharing trend in little ways thanks to Williams’ vision.

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One resident arrived with homemade treats to share with Williams, for instance.

Other receptive passersby, like Leslie Gurney, were inspired by his vision and keen to share it with others.

“We're going to share this food with my partner's daughter and tell her where we got it from. So she's going to think about it as well. So I love that idea of being human with each other,” she told CBC.