In September this year, everyone in North Lancashire was invited to take part in “Share the Harvest”, a month-long festival celebrating the diversity and abundance of local fruit – apples and pears in particular – and to reduce food waste by running events and workshops around harvesting, processing and preserving them.
Eight events were organised across Lancaster District as part of Share the Harvest, and 57 volunteers got involved to help out directly. A total of 577 people participated in events that were part of the campaign, and over 6,000 were reached online.
A total of 1,015 kg of fruit, more than a tonne, was harvested and redistributed through the Eggcup network thanks to fruit picking events during the festival. A huge thank you to all who participated for their amazing efforts!
Share the Harvest kicked off with a small fruit picking gathering of three apple trees in two private gardens in Bowerham in Lancaster. Read more about the host’s experience and get her recipe for a Gleaners’ Cake on the weekly FoodFutures local food column.
First-time gleaning participant Claire [name changed] said: “It was such a fun morning out picking apples. I enjoyed working in a group, so the work felt really light and fun, and the extendable apple pickers we had made it easy to reach even the highest apples on the tree. It was lovely how our host took care of us with tea and fruit cake, and I was very impressed with the amount of apples we had picked after just a few hours.”
A member at Eggcup said, “It’s always great seeing more fresh fruit and veg in the shop, and knowing that the stuff we’re getting is local and is something as nice and easy to use as apples is really great. Thanks everyone that’s done any picking!”
A big campus fruit rescue was organised by the Lancaster University EcoHub. Sadly, another fruit picking event at Lancaster and Morecambe College had to be cancelled on short notice due to high winds. Fairfield Community Orchard ran a big apple day, and Christ Church celebrated an Apple Festival with various fun activities and a Closing Loops composting stall.
The headline event was Lancaster’s Harvest Market where a cooking demo showed visitors how to process apples into puree for baking and gave free samples of a delicious apple tray bake made by Alina from Back to Eden in Preston.
Claver Hill Community Food Growing Project invited anyone with excess fruit to come and use their community apple press, either pressing apples and pears and pasteurising them or steaming and pureeing them to make into jam, chutneys and so on. Watch the video on YouTube. Keep an eye out for grafting and pruning workshops held at Claver Hill over winter too.
Eggcup has also worked with Ben near the canal to help juice gluts of apples that might be less suitable for eating, and Eggcup is exploring doing this in a food certified way so we can distribute fresh apple juice to our membership too.
The festival was organised by the Closing Loops project for the first time, and will be repeated annually from 2024. So if you have apple or pear trees, would like to organise a fruit harvest event, or host a workshop sharing skills in cooking and preserving fruit, save the date for September/ October 2024 and join in to share your harvest. Mini grants of up to £50 will be available to help community groups organise fruit picking events and workshops.
Closing Loops is a five-year National Lottery funded project working across Lancaster District to support creating systems that reduce waste and create a circular, regenerative local economy.
If you would like to join gleans as a volunteer with the North Lancashire Gleaning Network, or host gleaning events in your garden, orchard or farm, please get in touch with Jay on jay_CL@eggcup.org or take a look at www.foodfutures.org.uk/share-the-harvest.