Abundance projects

A growing movement that aims to make better use of neglected local fruit trees such as apples, pears and plums by organising volunteers to harvest the fruit.

While people have been picking for centuries, the current idea, under the umbrella name of Abundance, seems to have begun to coalesce around 2007. By 2010 there were many grassroots projects, mostly called Abundance (eg. Abundance London, Abundance Manchester, West Ealing Abundance) or Urban Harvest (eg. Leeds Urban Harvest, Haringey). Other groups have slightly different names (eg. Local Fruit Harvesters: Kensal to Kilburn, St John’s Villas Pears) but all have broadly the same aims: to harvest surplus fruit and prevent waste. The precise nature of each local project depends on the strengths and interests of local organisers. For instance Abundance London has strong links with local schools, organising class picking trips. West Ealing Abundance has an expertise in jam-making; Haringey Urban Harvest in foraging, etc.

Each year hundreds of fruit trees go unpicked, on both public and private land, either because people don’t notice them, may not be physically able to harvest them or there are just too many fruits at one time. Abundance counters this waste by picking the fruit and redistributing the surplus to the community on a non-profit basis - to community cafes, nurseries, Surestarts and individuals. Fruit can also be juiced to make jams, chutneys and preserves, some of which can be sold on as part of a social enterprise. Abundance continues through the seasonal cycle with planting and pruning workshops. Volunteers who take part have the pleasure of eating fresh, ripe fruit from the tree, finding out more about urban food growing and working alongside enthusiastic people of all ages. Most activity obviously takes place when the fruit is ready to harvest, generally between August and the end of October. Collectively, Abundance groups in the UK won the Observer Ethical Award for Best Grassroots Project in 2010.

- Text from Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens website

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