The Orchard Project is joining forces with a food distribution charity to ensure apples from London’s orchards don’t go to waste.
It’s the start of what we hope will be a long-term, fruitful partnership with The Felix Project. This fantastic charity collects fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold and delivers it to charities and schools so they can provide healthy meals for those who need it most.
During September, we will harvest surplus apples from community orchards we are supporting in the city to donate to The Felix Project.
Richard Smith, Head of Food Supply at The Felix Project says: “We are delighted to be working with The Orchard Project and to get going on collecting the fruit they have grown. Getting support like this is brilliant as it gives us access to lots of really fresh and delicious homegrown fruit. We know, through the community organisations we work with, that too many people are finding hard this type of food increasingly hard to afford, so we welcome this supply.”
We will also be using apples from these orchards at community apple pressing days and a cooking day, where we’ll be making apple and blackberry crumble, apple sauce and apple chutney.
This project has evolved from our previous harvesting and cider enterprise and is our seventh apple harvest in London. Over this period, we’ve harvested 53 tonnes of surplus fruit and given back just over £17,000 to local community groups.
A heartwarming project
The fruit varieties we’ll be picking include heritage apples such as Warner’s King, a large green cooking apple bred in the 1700s; Worcester Pearmain, a sweet red dessert apple with a hint of strawberry flavour; and Annie Elizabeth, a Victorian variety from Leicestershire that cooks to a delicious puree.
“This is such a heart-warming and wholesome project,” says London project manager Lizzy Pegler, who is leading the harvests. “It’s a wonderful celebration of community, nature and the difference we can make when we all come together.”
Everyone is welcome to come along and get stuck in at the events – from harvesting to pressing – and all details of the upcoming events can be found on our Events page.
The orchards taking part in this year’s harvest are: Claybury Orchard, Ilford; Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore; and Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham. The community pressing day will take place at a new site we’re working with in the city – Doddington and Rollo Community Roof Garden in Battersea.
Giving back to the community
As with our previous apple donor project, we will be giving back financially to the community groups who help us with the harvest, reinvesting in tree care and ongoing training support to ensure their orchards thrive for many years to come.
This is a pilot project for 2023, but we know there is huge demand from the groups The Felix Project works with for fresh fruit. Therefore, we plan to grow the number of orchards we work with across London to supply more fruit in subsequent years. There is also potential to expand the project to include fruit from private gardens to turn this into a sizable project with huge impact.
Thanks to innocent, who are generously supporting this project to get it off the ground.