Falling Fruit - Urban Harvesting Project 2015
By Bernie

Falling Fruit – Urban Harvesting Project has finished for this year and I am deeply grateful to all the donators, the volunteers, facilitators, promoters, supporters and the charities who made it a great success.

This was the first year of the project and much time was spent writing emails to community gardens, gardening groups, working on Facebook, putting flyers in libraries and shops, an interview on Near FM, and much more. Eoghan organised an article in Dublin Gazette.

The Project could not have been as successful as it was without the help of Robert Moss of Dublin Community Growers, and Catherine Cleary of the Irish Times who helped to spread the word. For this I am hugely grateful. Many thanks also to Foodcloud who linked us to charities who could use the fruit.

Monkstown

Our very first picking event was on October 15. Our generous donators – Ellie and Sarah in Monkstown and Niamh and Jim in Dalkey - kindly invited four of us volunteering pickers into their gardens to harvest the apples - eating apples and cooking apples. It was a great day! Volunteers, Angela, Claire, Ilona and I travelled from different parts of the city to the beautiful gardens. The sun was shining brightly and we worked joyfully for about three hours gathering the fruit, helped along with juice and coffee from our wonderful hosts. Foodcloud found a charity for the harvest and Ellie took on the extra task of delivering the fruit to a charity in Dun Laoghaire (a charity preparing meals for families and individuals in food poverty). 

Sarah and Ellie

Sarah and Ellie

Team Monkstown

Team Monkstown

Terenure

Another wonderful day was spent at the home of Emer in Terenure who donated a tasty crop of cooking apples. Volunteers Helen, Ruth, Helen, Elaine and I picked and sorted the fruit which was then delivered to two charities in the local area by Ruth and Elaine. Nothing went to waste – apples that fell on hard ground and were damaged were brought home by the pickers to make tasty pies!

Team Terenure

Team Terenure

Many other donators contacted Falling Fruit and crates of apples were delivered to charities. Some of these were: 

  • Charles in Rathfarnham offered surplus fruit from his garden. He delivered it to a charity in Clondalkin. 
  • Brigitte had surplus organic fruit in Co. Meath which she picked, packed and delivered to two charities in Drogheda. She was delighted with her contact with the charities and will happily bring surplus food, including vegetables, from her organic garden from now on.
  • Ailbhe collected her surplus harvest and delivered it to a charity in Clondalkin. Ailbhe also volunteered for fruit picking.
  • Judith in Dun Laoghaire had a rich harvest of organic apples which she gathered and brought to a food bank charity in Dun Laoghaire on more than one occasion.
  • Suzanne delivered her apples to a charity in Clondalkin.
  • Jacqueline in Donnybrook Heritage Garden offered surplus organic apples and found a charity for them. 
  • Jan in Rathmines donated and delivered her surplus apples to a charity in Rathmines.
  • Barbara in Rathgar offered her apple harvest for next year as this year they were already used.
  • Kathleen in Terenure contacted Falling Fruit and distributed her apples among friends.
  • Els in Cork contacted Falling Fruit to enquire if it was operating in Cork.

It was altogether a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

Dublin Made Me Market

Falling Fruit participated in the Dublin Made Me Market in Smock Alley at the kind invitation of Catherine Cleary - a great supporter of Dublin food growers.

Falling Fruit collected a large quantity of apples for this event - all due to the great help of Andrew Jordan who found the fruit, helped with the fruit picking, sorting, storing and transported it to Smock Alley early in the morning. The fruit came from a disused apple garden in North Co. Dublin and a magical time was had collecting the fruit with Andrew and Judit.

Bernie and Catherine

Bernie and Catherine at Dublin Made Me

Catherine organised an apple press to make fresh apple juice at the market and to show how surplus apples can be put to good use. The apple press and the fresh juice attracted great attention.

A team from WeShare came to help out at this event – many thanks to Judit, Anne, Eoghan, Miren and Tommy. We also had two other wonderful helpers – Ann and Jeremiah. The spent pulp was collected by Andrew to be used for composting or making cider vinegar. 

Bernie, Miren and Judit

Bernie, Miren and Judit at Dublin Made Me

Niamh at Foodcloud did great work finding charities for the harvested fruit, within the area where the fruit was growing, as was the preference of Falling Fruit. One of the principles of Falling Fruit is to reduce food miles and carbon footprint. Foodcloud also distributed some surplus fruit from Falling Fruit at the international Web Summit in their efforts to spread awareness of locally grown food and food waste prevention.

The Vision for 2016 and Further

Falling Fruit plans to make next year an even greater success! We invite you to sign up straight away to get involved for next year! The planning starts now. Here are some of the ideas we would like to set in motion: 

  • Establishing Falling Fruit groups in every postal district of Dublin – e.g. Falling Fruit D6, etc.
  • Expanding Falling Fruit to cover towns and countryside.
  • Expanding into collecting surplus vegetables for charities too.
  • Mapping and Recording - A comprehensive map of fruit sites for urban and rural harvesting.
  • Pruning: We would like to offer pruning expertise to donators, allowing their trees to grow to their full size and to encourage the health and long life of the trees.
  • Encouraging planting of fruit trees. There are many ways to grow fruit trees. You can grow them from seed, you can buy grafted plants from a nursery or you can learn to graft them yourself.
  • We hope to create a list of contacts for groups and centres who can handle lots of fruit of different quality and type on an ongoing basis. We can then give this information directly to people who have trees bearing lots of fruit and they can take the fruit there themselves. This will be particularly useful for people with lots of trees who live a long way from the centre of the city.
  • We would encourage the local council to plant new fruit trees, especially nut varieties on public land, encouraging people to grow fruit and nut trees in their gardens and doing guerrilla fruit and nut planting.
  • Agroforestry network, bringing the principles of permaculture design into the design of the city’s urban forest. This involves viewing and creating the whole city as a living forest of edible and medicinal plants – encouraging orchard planting on safe landfill sites, and giving advice and education in the planting and maintenance of fruit and nut trees.
  • We hope to organise jam-making and preserving workshops and cross-cultural cooking workshops with different user groups of all ages in future years.
  • We would like to develop the educational and food waste prevention aspects of the Falling Fruit harvest with schools and other people who receive the fruit.
  • The ideal development for us is that at harvest time people go out to harvest the fruit for and with their friends, family and neighbours and pass the surplus on to local community groups and institutions at street level. By valuing and celebrating nature’s abundance we hope that people will learn to care for and plant fruit trees across the city in public and private land.
  • We would like to discover any abandoned commercial orchards. Groups nearer to the sites could be able to include these sites in their Falling Fruit projects!

Please contact me if you would like to be part of the Falling Fruit – Urban Harvesting Project for 2016!

fallingfruit@weshare.ie

Bernie

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