We live in an amazing age of technology, science, prosperity, medicine and transport, yet still people live in poverty.
Some people live in awful poverty. No clean water, no sanitation, no home.
Some people live in relative poverty. They have the basics, yet still they struggle.
In the UK 13 million people live below the poverty line. Compared to some, they may seem rich, but these people struggle. Almost 1 million of them have visited food banks in the last year to get handouts so that they can eat.
Luckily people are often generous.
Generous with money – donating food to these organisations.
Generous with time – volunteering to man and support them.
Generous with labour – working to supply them.
One such initiative that helps bring food to these food banks and others in need is the Abundance programme.
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.
Each year hundreds of fruit trees go unpicked, on both public and private land, either because people don’t notice them, they aren’t 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.
Fruit can also be used 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.
In America there is an initiative known as Food Forward.
Over the past five years, Rick Nahmias, the founder of Food Forward, has been able to feed millions of people in need, and he says, it all started with an orange.
In 2009, Nahmias was walking around the neighborhood with his dog when he saw “a great amount of fruit trees that weren’t being harvested.” A friend of his, in particular, had a tangerine tree and an orange tree, but only used a few of each for herself and her daughter. He had seen how many communities were in need, and that sparked the idea to harvest his friend’s fruit and donate it to a local food bank. He launched his first harvest in 2009 with the help of just one volunteer. Together they gathered 85 pounds of tangerines in just a few hours. Less than a month later, he enlisted 50 people on another harvest, which yielded 5,000 pounds of oranges that would have otherwise rotted. Now with three core programs in place, Food Forward recovers and donates 4 million pounds of food each year.
If you have a fruit tree with fruit going to waste, why not see if someone would like to harvest it for you. Or if you don’t have a fruit crop of your own, why not join in with one of these organisations – or who knows – maybe even start one of your own!
Spread the joy, share the fruit – It’s healthy, It’s free and it’s good for your soul.