We’re a growing concern

Abundance Edinburgh's Ben Miller and Valla Moodie enjoy the fruits of their labour

Abundance Edinburgh's Ben Miller and Valla Moodie enjoy the fruits of their labour

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A GROUP that harvests fruit in the back gardens of south Edinburgh is taking its work to the Meadows this weekend in a bid to persuade others to join them

For the last two years, Abundance Edinburgh has sent volunteers out to pick the plums, apples, raspberries and other fruit growing in private back gardens and public areas.

And as part of its expansion, it will set up a demonstration of how fruit is crushed on Saturday in the hope others take up the cause.

This year, with the award of two grants, the group has been able to buy equipment and employ a part-time co-ordinator – and is planning to branch out of the south of city.

A homemade cider has also been produced by the group with the help of a distilling student, and that too will be on hand to try at the demonstration.

Rob Kyle, a volunteer with the group, said: “There are thousands of tons of fruit growing in back gardens, a lot of which just goes to waste.

“Our idea is to redistribute that and to raise awareness of just what is growing in the city.

“Throughout the harvest season we get calls from people asking us to help pick their apples or other fruit, perhaps because they are elderly and can’t do it themselves, or perhaps because there is just too much.

“Quite often we have gone to houses where the children there won’t eat the apples from the tree, they say they prefer supermarket ones, but when they see us harvesting them, they’ll come out and have a try.”

The volunteers harvest the fruit, leaving enough for the family, while the surplus goes to a range of projects, including the charity Fair Share, which collects surplus food for the homeless.

They also hand out punnets to shops across the city for their customers to try, and other pieces are used as examples in workshops the organisation holds.

The group has harvested a wide range of fruit, from sloes to greengages, but apples are the most common– last year volunteers picked half a ton from two trees at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital alone.

“I think we have tried every recipe there is with apples – jams, jellies, pies, strudels, apple leather, which is a bit like a Wham bar,” Rob added.

“So far we have mainly worked in south Edinburgh, but we have a lot of capacity and we have also taken on a part-time member of staff to co-ordinate it.

“We are also looking for places to store the fruit, such as churches with empty room in their cellars.

“Last year we made a lot of cider – it’s quite fizzy and clear. We’re not sure of its strength –maybe people can have a guess at that on Saturday.”

n Abundance Edinburgh will be on the Meadows opposite the Pavilion Café this Saturday from 1pm to 4pm. For more information, visit www.abundance edinburgh.com or e-mail valla@abundanceedinburgh.com