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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.

 

Let’s get picking – Harvest Share gets under way

Stratford Harvest Share got under way on Saturday 17 August when a team of volunteers picked early apples (and a few early plums) in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, near Stratford upon Avon.

The team picked 80 kilos of fruit – mainly Beauty of Bath, a variety which was prized by the Victorians for ripening in July. The delayed harvest this year meant we were picking in mid-August, about three weeks late. The fruit has gone to make the first juice of the season, while the plums have already been turned into jam.

There’s a good crop of fruit on the trees – in particular, apples – but most of it is still far from ripe. There’ll be some good harvests as we get into September and October, but at the moment, pickings are still quite small.

If you would like to take part in Harvest Share, volunteers are needed for picking – Wednesday mornings, Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings – and for sorting and distribution on Monday mornings. Contact Transition Stratford on 01789 298503 if you would like to help.

Harvest Share volunteers with some of the harvest at Anne Hathaway's Cottage, 17 August 2013

Harvest Share volunteers with some of the harvest at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, 17 August 2013

Harvest Share sells out at Apple Days

Hundreds of people enjoyed the glorious sunshine last weekend – Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October – when they visited Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share stand at the Apple Days event at Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote.

Visitors saw apple juice being made using Transition Stratford’s apple press – and enjoyed themselves by sampling the results! They also had the opportunity to buy apple juice, jams and chutneys made from fruit collected by the Harvest Share scheme – and everything sold out by Sunday afternoon.

There was also great interest – especially from children – in a display of over 50 apples currently in fruit in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Harvest Share volunteers collect fruit every Saturday morning. Leaflets about Harvest Share and other food projects run by Transition Stratford disappeared as quickly as the Harvest Share produce.

Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme collects unwanted fruit from gardens and orchards in and around Stratford upon Avon and distributes it free to local care homes and children’s groups, as well as arranging for surpluses to be processed and preserved. Since the 2011 scheme started in August, over 2 tonnes of local fruit have been saved from waste by the scheme.