About this project
- Date started:
- September 2010
- Number of people involved:
- 2 - 5
- Number of people benefitting:
- 100 - 500
- Goals or benefits:
- Awareness raising
- Related Transition stage:
Transition Stratford's Harvest Share collects the fruit that people can't or don't harvest - and puts it to good uses. We gather fruit from people's gardens and local orchards (with permission!) and distribute it to care homes, children's centres, churches - whoever can make use of it!
People asking us if we can help stop fruit going to waste - and Abundance Sheffield and Abundance Manchester (Thanks!)
Outcomes so far:
We collected nearly a third of a tonne of fruit during our six week pilot in 2010. In 2011 we expanded the scheme to cover over 300 trees in gardens and orchards in and around Stratford upon Avon, organising three picking sessions and one distribution session a week from the beginning of August to the end of October. Over 70 volunteers helped us save over 3 tonnes of fruit from going to waste - by picking, sorting and distributing the fruit. Nearly 20 local care homes and children's groups had weekly deliveries of free fruit boxes, while nearly 2 tonnes was made into jams, juices and chutneys.
The 2012 harvest was not as good. Like the rest of the country, the cold and wet spring affected pollination. However, nearly 50 volunteers helped us pick and distribute nearly one tonne of fruit.
We did not expect to have so many trees offered so quickly - this was a challenge to the scale of the operation! However, we have managed to set up a system that can deal with nearly half a tonne of fruit a week - and involve significant numbers of volunteers.
We have made links with organisations which have to date had no contact with Transition - like care homes and children's groups. We have been able to provide outdoor activities for pupils from a local special school and we have provided volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities.
The largest orchards where we pick are owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on its properties Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's Farm. We are now working with Trust staff to undertake winter maintenance of these orchards, including pruning and planting new fruit trees.
We are increasingly being invited to local summer shows and fetes, where we demonstrate apple juicing, talk about Harvest Share and raise people's awareness of the poosibilities of local food and local resources.
Obstacles, and how we overcame them:
The biggest challenge for the pilot was finding places for the fruit to go. Transition Stratford supporters used their local contacts to find some initial destinations - which then generated more.
The challenge now is finding premises for temporary storage and sorting. For the last two years we have managed to find a temporary room - but each year we have to go through the same process of searching for a home.
We were fortunate in 2011 to get a small grant from a local charity, Stratford Town Trust, which helped us buy a range of equipment for picking fruit.
We reckon that in 2011 and in 2012, Harvest Share was probably the biggest community fruit collection and distribution scheme in the country. We have tried to organise a scheme that can operate on a significant scale - but which also engages people in concerns about making good use of local food and local resources. We are fortunate to be located in an area with a history of orchard fruit -but any place could copy our approach, and we will be happy to help them.