Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme is one of the largest community fruit collection and distribution scheme in the country. Since 2010 we have saved over 10 tonnes of local fruit from going to waste and we’ll soon be back among the fruit trees again in 2016. We’re checking the trees regularly and gathering names of prospective pickers and soon-to-be sorters so please contact us if you’d like to get involved. As in previous years, some of the fruit we gather will be distributed free to local care homes and children’s groups, while most of the rest will be processed into jams, juices and chutneys.
Why share the local harvest? Because most of the fruit bought and eaten in Britain is imported, but every year much fruit goes to waste in gardens or orchards because it is not harvested. Some who own fruit trees do not bother to pick at all; others pick as much as they can use, but more fruit remains that they cannot eat or preserve.
In September 2010 Transition Stratford launched a pilot Harvest Share project to collect fruit from gardens in Stratford and distribute it to local groups which could use or preserve it. Over the next five weeks we collected nearly a third of a tonne of fruit for distribution to local care homes, lunch clubs and children’s centres.
In 2011 Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share was put on an expanded and more organised footing – and as a result, saved over 3 tonnes of local fruit from going to waste, making it one of the biggest schemes of its type in the country. There was picking every week in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery – one of the Shakespeare houses owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – as well as picking in gardens and small orchards in and around Stratford. Weekly deliveries of free boxes of fruit were made to more than half the care homes in Stratford as well as to Stratford’s children’s centres and local play groups. Surplus fruit went for processing into juices, jams and chutneys.
Stratford Town Trust generously supported Harvest Trust in 2011 with a £750 grant, which helped with the purchase of more picking equipment for the scheme. In 2012, Harvest Share received valuable support from Stratford Mencap in the form of a store room at the Mulberry Centre, Stratford upon Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust also added the orchards at Mary Arden’s Farm and a small orchard in Shottery to the scheme in 2012 – giving us about 100 more trees to pick.
But the 2012 harvest was much poorer than 2011’s because of the cold spring weather. And the weather badly affected nearly all crops – there were few plums or pears, and only the late varieties of apples produced reasonable crops. Nonetheless we managed to make three deliveries of free fruit to local care homes and children’s groups, as well as managing some preserving and juicing.
Things were better in 2013 – though the fruit was much later to ripen than in previous years, which caused problems for organising the picking. Despite this, over 2.6 tonnes of local fruit was collected, and over 600 litres of fresh apple juice bottled. 2014 gave us a 2 tonne pick and 2015 saw a further 2.5 tonnes picked and shared with the local community or juiced and sold to raise funds for the project.
So get in touch if you want to help or contribute to Harvest Share. We would love to hear from you if
- you own fruit trees and cannot make full use of their crop.
- you can help with harvesting, sorting or delivering collected fruit.
- you can make use of free fruit through cooking, preserving or distribution to others.
For more information, contact Transition Stratford on 01789 298503 or through firstname.lastname@example.org.