Harvest Share saves over two tonnes of fruit!

Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme, which collects fruit that would otherwise go unpicked from gardens and orchards in and around Stratford upon Avon, has saved over two tonnes of fruit from going to waste this autumn.

Now in its third year, the scheme put over 2.3 tonnes to good use in 2013 through free weekly distributions to local care homes and children’s groups and through processing fruit into jams, juices and chutneys. Since its launch as a pilot in the autumn of 2010, Harvest Share has saved over 6.5 tonnes of local fruit from going to waste.

Harvest Share organiser Roger Matthews praised the work of the volunteers who pick the fruit and help to sort and deliver it. “Over 350 hours of volunteer time has gone into this year’s Harvest Share,” he said. “Without the support of volunteers, Harvest Share would not be possible.” Pupils from Welcombe Hills Special School in Stratford are among the regular pickers.

He also highlighted the contribution of tree owners who offer their fruit to the scheme. “The orchards at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm, which are contributed by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, are the backbone of the scheme. Together they have contributed half this year’s fruit. But the trees in private gardens and orchards are just as important. We have had several new gardens contributed this year – in fact, we were not able to pick all the fruit on offer.”

Harvest Share works by picking regularly three-four times a week from the beginning of August to the end of October. Fruit is put into a temporary store – this year the Mulberry Centre in Stratford town centre, which was held on a short-term lease from Warwickshire County Council. The fruit is then sorted and distributed every Monday.

This year’s harvest was complicated by the late ripening of the fruit, following a cold start to the spring earlier in the year. Very little fruit was ready to pick in August, while some fruit was still not ripe at the end of October. “But despite these difficulties, we have made a good harvest in 2013,” said Roger Matthews.