Residents and businesses in North Lancashire are invited to Share the Harvest

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Share the Harvest, a local festival coordinated by FoodFutures, is taking place for the second time this year. The festival focuses on the prevention of food waste and the rescue of unharvested fruit across Lancaster district in early autumn.

FoodFutures is calling upon local groups and organisations to partake in this year's programme, with the opportunity to run their own events — from fruit picking to apple pressing, to preserving workshops and harvest celebrations.

The festival collaborates with volunteers from the North Lancashire gleaning network to assist households in harvesting fruit trees. Harvesting equipment such as telescopic apple pickers and an apple press are available to borrow, and community groups can apply for financial support for their activities and events.

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The Share the Harvest campaign aims to tackle food waste across Lancaster district - focussing mainly on apples and pears, although other unharvested fruit and vegetables can also be included. Events will include fruit picking and gleaning activities, harvest festivals and workshops on food skills such as juicing, cooking, baking, and preserving. The idea is to make good use of harvested food that would otherwise go to waste.

Share the Harvest 2024Share the Harvest 2024
Share the Harvest 2024

Among the confirmed events this year will be Lancaster’s Harvest Market on 13 September, one of four seasonal community markets organised by FoodFutures every year, a fruit picking day with students at Lancaster and Morecambe College and apple juice pressing at schools with a mobile apple press.

Gleaning is an ancient practice where crops left over after the harvest are collected from farmers' fields. Gleaning events offer an opportunity to address environmental concerns by reducing food waste and enhancing food skills within the community. Every bit of surplus counts for a glean – even those with just one tree are encouraged to host picking events.

Households with fruit trees who are unable to harvest all the fruit from their garden are encouraged to organise their own glean with the assistance of FoodFutures and Eggcup. Neighbours ready to lend a hand in harvesting are invited to join in, as are talented cooks eager to share their baking or preserving expertise in a workshop. Fruit picking can also make for a great day out for an office team that wants to give back to the local community as well as for school and church groups.

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A variety of harvesting tools, like fruit pickers and an apple press, are available to borrow at no cost. Moreover, gleans provide a wonderful avenue for outdoor activity, fostering connections within the local community, and bringing together individuals with shared interests.

Apple glean in Bowerham 2024Apple glean in Bowerham 2024
Apple glean in Bowerham 2024

Excess fruit from private and community gardens can be dropped off at Eggcup’s warehouses in Lancaster and Morecambe for redistribution or use in community activities like cooking, baking, and preserving. Larger amounts can also be collected by Eggcup.

Eggcup is a local organisation focussing on the reduction of waste of surplus food and the distribution to people in need. After last year's series of events, 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!”

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Groups and organisations taking part can receive small grants through the Closing Loops project to assist with organising gleans, community events, and workshops. Additionally, they will benefit from publicity support provided by the Closing Loops team.

Apple glean in Bowerham 2024Apple glean in Bowerham 2024
Apple glean in Bowerham 2024

Green Lancaster hosted a glean in the ECOHub on the Lancaster University Campus as part of the Share the Harvest Festival last year. A student who attended commented:

‘‘Led by Jay from Eggcup, we embarked from the ECOHub (the focal meeting point for this adventure) towards Forrest Hills, whereby masses of apples were just waiting for us to glean. Upon arrival, we immediately set to work using the apple pickers to glean the apples from the trees, which we all found to be incredibly enjoyable, with many people discovering their secret talent for this in the process! After a few hours, we had successfully filled many crates to the brim with apples. These crates were then handed over to EcoEats, whereby many delicious apple pies were created – of which we had the good fortune in taking some of these pies home with us – making the day very rewarding indeed!”

This glean was not only fruitful in the way that it physically produced a lot of fruit, but also because it engaged students and staff alike in engaging with their campus and enjoying produce that otherwise would have gone to waste.

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Anyone interested in joining in as a fruit picking volunteer is welcome to participate in gleaning events to help gather unharvested fruit to be distributed through Eggcup or turned into delicious treats in cooking and preserving workshops.

Individuals or groups who would like to volunteer, host an event or a fruit pick in their garden, borrow harvesting and juicing equipment as part of Share the Harvest can email Gleaning Coordinator Jay Godden at [email protected].

More information on how to get involved can be found at: https://foodfutures.org.uk/share-the-harvest

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