When you go shopping for groceries, do you plan to come home with lots of freebies? Well, at one market in New Taipei, that''s exactly what you can expect. A mother and son duo in Zhonghe District started to offer vegetables for free, after COVID hit profits at their market stall. Chang Feng-yi says he would much rather see the vegetables consumed than go to waste. Their community spirit even extends to free deliveries for neighbors.

This vegetable stall owner advertises her produce proudly. But she’s not selling it. No, she’s giving it away. The sign says “Free Love Vegetables.”

She happily hands over a big handful of napa cabbage. The recipient is baffled but delighted. Here at Shengli Market in New Taipei’s Zhonghe District, 30-year-old Chang and his mother have set up a new vegetable stall. They grow their vegetables in greenhouses. But COVID took a big toll on business, with customer numbers halved. One day, Chang had a brainwave: rather than letting vegetables go to waste, why not give them to those in need?

Vegetable stall owner

When there are leftovers, after 11 a.m., I always give them away. Today someone asked me, “You want to give this away? I can give it to my next-door neighbor. They’re not doing so great financially.”

Chang Feng-yi

Vegetable store owner

I feel that it’s a waste to throw them away, because they’re perfectly edible. They’re just a bit ugly on the surface. Maybe they got too much sun or lost a bit of water and they’re a bit wrinkled.

But that’s not all. This mother and son even offer a home delivery service. Here on the stall’s social media page, you can see a price list for all the produce, handily arranged so customers can make an order.

Chang Feng-yi

Vegetable store owner

With the deliveries – perhaps there are moms nearby who aren’t so able to come out right now, in the pandemic. So we take it over for them.

The stall’s profits have dropped 30% since COVID began. But that’s done nothing to dampen the heart and passion of its owners. They hope their humble gestures of love and generosity will ripple out to brighten the whole community.