Abundance picks fruit trees and ensures that 10% of the fruit is left for wildlife. The rest is distributed to food banks, lunch clubs and similar groups and volunteers also receive a share. What’s left is used to cook, preserve or juice in their community workshops.
Funding of £2,852 from the AESSEAL Charitable Trust Grassroots Endowment Fund for South Yorkshire contributed to the cost of skills training volunteers to lead harvesting events as well as community workshops.
To deliver their project, Abundance partnered with two organisations RIVA and Get Set, which both work with young people with disabilities, to encourage their service users to take part in harvesting and workshops.
During this time 38 fruit trees, one grapevine and one field of organic carrots, parsnips and beetroot were picked. All of which would have otherwise gone to waste. 93 organisations across Sheffield benefitted from the harvested fruit and vegetables too and were able to cook or distribute the produce themselves.
Seven regular volunteers were trained to lead the harvesting sessions and a total of 240 people also took part in the wide range of Abundance events such as juicing, savoury cooking and chutney making, thanks to the SYCF funding.
“I really enjoyed doing the apple delivery last autumn. As I have mental health challenges it was great to be able to do something for the community at times to suit myself as its difficult to commit to specific times.” – Volunteer
“Abundance has taught me many things in the time I have been involved with it. Volunteering on harvests has helped me to develop my social and team-working skills, as well as improving my knowledge of local wildlife (especially apple trees!). I also put more thought into my diet, where my food is coming from, and make more of an effort to reduce my food waste.
“Moving beyond myself, it is easy to see the impact that Abundance makes on both the lives of
individuals and on Sheffield as a community. The distribution, cookery sessions and training that Abundance provide serve our city well and enrich the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“There is always a strong sense of community at an Abundance session. Old friends greet each other, and new people are welcomed in warmly. From what I have seen, the attitude and energy of both the staff and the volunteers is inspiring, and I can say with no doubt in my mind that I am a better person as a result of my time volunteering with Abundance.” – Volunteer
During the funding from SYCF, Abundance rescued 1,963kg of fruit and vegetables from being wasted and worked with 174 new volunteer participants throughout the project.
Abundance Project Coordinator, Lucy said:
“The real success of this project is how it has benefitted our two partner organisations. Both are now confident to go out and do their own harvesting and cooking sessions with their clients. They now have the skills to continue on with the sessions themselves so our work with them has had a real long term impact.”
Project Leader at Get Set, Cheryl said:
“The group have participated in all aspects of the Abundance Project including harvesting, cooking, sharing & juicing. Before taking part the only thing our young people would do with fruit is pick it up from their fruit bowl at home and eat it.
“Now they are much more aware of where fruit originates from and all safety aspects of harvesting it. They have experimented with unusual savoury recipes to include the fruit that they wouldn’t expect to use including chicken & apple pie, sausage & apple quiche and butternut squash & apple soup. All of which were well received and enjoyed. They have shared the fruit with their families, friends and the community and distributed the recipe ideas to encourage others to try something new. The juicing sessions were amazing, the young people really enjoyed this experience and all said it was the best juice they have ever tasted.
“All in all there has been significant change in each young person’s opinion of fruit and how they use it. They are all looking forward to this years harvest and doing it all again. They have reported back on fruit trees they have seen in the community so we can harvest even more next time.”