By Nina Osswald, Closing Loops Engagement Coordinator 

If you have fruit trees in your garden, you may be familiar with this. The abundance is wonderful to look at, but every autumn, the question arises who has time to actually pick the fruit. Never mind processing the harvest. For whether it’s apples, pears or something else: You can only store so many, and for so long – so who on earth is going to eat them all? Of course they could be juiced, and you have collected an impressive range of recipes for jams, chutneys and even fruit leathers over the years. But really, who has time for that…? 

Actually, there may well be people in your neighbourhood who do have time for that. And harvesting together and sharing the crops could be a fun community activity. That’s where a new festival called “Share the Harvest” is meant to come in. 

FoodFutures and the Closing Loops project invite everyone in North Lancashire to pitch in and harvest, preserve, celebrate and of course eat apples and pears this September. The month-long festival will rescue unharvested fruit and prevent food waste through a range of community events. 

Everyone in Lancaster District is invited to join in, for example by hosting a gleaning event, organising a community fruit pick in their local area or running a food skills workshop. These events will be a chance to prevent food waste, meet new people and learn and share food skills like juicing, cooking, baking and preserving. Individuals, community groups, organisations and businesses are all encouraged to contribute to the festival programme with local events for all age groups.

By the way, if you didn’t know what “gleaning” is, you’re not alone as the word has gone out of fashion a bit. Gleaning is an ancient practice where crops left over after the harvest are collected from farmers’ fields. Even today, it is sometimes not commercially viable for a farmer to harvest all their crops, leading to food waste and loss of profits for farmers. And so the practice of gleaning is now being revived by community groups across the country, making sure surplus produce is harvested by volunteers and redistributed for bellies, not bins. It’s a win-win for anyone too busy to harvest all their crops, for volunteers to have a fun day out and take home some fresh produce, and ultimately for people in need of extra food.

So if you have more fruit trees than you can manage to harvest, have skills in cooking, juicing or preserving fruit that you would like to share with your local community, or would like to join a glean, head to foodfutures.org.uk/share-the-harvest to find out more. 

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