After reading Hungry City, with it’s (rightly) sombre view of our current food system, I was in need of a bit of a pick-up; something to cheer the heart, warm the soul, and offer a little hope of a better way. Fortunately the next day I heard about PREPARE, a community fruit harvesting scheme to use surplus fruit from gardens and common land. When I heard it was in Birmingham, I nearly fell off my seat on the number 11 bus!
PREPARE is the brain child of Eleanor Hode, artist in residence for the ward of Erdington. Eleanor says the aim of the project “is to harvest, process and distribute unused fruit growing in peoples gardens and on public land and to get it eaten! Either as fresh fruit or processed into juice, jams and pickles that are given away to local people”
Eleanor, who’s based at Kingstanding Leisure Centre, has got some funding from Birmingham City Council for the project and has got together most of the necessary equipment for harvesting (A bike and trailer, picking stick, 2 picking bags, sheet of plastic, storage boxes etc), and has had a positive response from local residents so far. However she can’t do it alone, so is on the look out for some keen fruit spotters, pickers, and processors, especially from the Erdington area. Of course there will be plenty of fruity perks for volunteers!
Later in the year Eleanor is planning to plant some fruit trees on 2 sites in the area and to throw an event for Apple Day on Sunday 25th October at Kingstanding Leisure Centre. There’ll hopefully be lots of activities, music, and some apple juicing on a press she’s planning to make. Loaf is planning to show our support, and will certainly let you know all about it on here. Eleanor is also on the look out for a top apple expert to identify varieties and share their knowledge on Apple Day, so if you fit the bill, or know anyone who does, get in touch with Eleanor (see below), or leave a comment on the blog and we’ll pass it on.
If you’re interested in similar initiatives it’s also worth checking out the ‘Abundance’ project in Sheffield that’s been doing similar things for a couple of years.
If you’d like to get involved with the project, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with her on 07974 934 917. Eleanor also has her own page on the artsresidencies.org, and there’s a flyer below (click to enlarge):