Do you have a tree laden with fruit you can't reach or a lawn covered with windfalls you don't want?
It's a common problem in suburban gardens. But rather than see food go to waste, community fruit harvesting schemes are springing up around the country. It's all done on a very local level, usually through word of mouth or local residents' associations, with tree owners contacting the picking teams once their fruit is ready. The produce is shared between local charities, tree owners and volunteers. Our area in NW London has two schemes going. Last weekend Mapesbury Fruit Harvesters (pictured) tackled a huge old apple tree and ended up with 67.5 kg of Beauty of Bath (mostly given to a local charity for the homeless) plus a few windfall Bramleys. Later this week we'll be picking plums. A plus for tree owners is that a few of us went on a pruning course earlier in the year, and can now bring light and shape into some of the trees which have become too overgrown to produce well.
The umbrella name for the initiative is Abundance - it recently won an Observer ethical living award. Local groups are flourishing in parts of Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield as well as London, and it's hoped many more will spring up.
Last autumn the BBC website ran a feature on Abundance: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8280425.stm
For more information try the following links:
or for the Mapesbury area, email Mapesharvesters@hotmail.co.uk