Last week I headed up to Dublin to attend a Harvest Seminar organised by Green Home, a framework that are supported by the Environmental Protection Agency to support and advise householders on ways to protect the environment whilst saving money on their household bills.
Green Homes is an extension of the green schools programme and a really worthwhile initiative run by a very enthusiastic and committed bunch of people. (So do take a look at their site if you'd like to get involved.)
Back to the harvest seminar though, in the lead up to the European Waste Reduction week Green Homes organised a fruit awareness programme, encouraging local groups, schools and individuals to map then harvest fruit that is often wasted each year because people don't have the time, energy or physical ability to harvest them, or just don't notice that the fruit is going to waste.
This idea really appealed to me, particularly as I'm involved with community gardeners and can see the potential to the community groups I work with.
So often, as you walk or drive around the towns, villages or countryside, you can see apple trees dripping with fruit that you know will just go to waste. At the same time supermarket shelves are stacked with perfectly shaped cardboard and cellophane packets of apples that have usually been imported from overseas. Is there not something slightly skewed about that? Food is being wasted, literally left to rot on the trees or ground, yet money is being spent on importing goods destined for our fruit bowls? Even today whilst shopping in Lidl (who are usually pretty good at stocking Irish goods) there were no Irish grown apples and yet they're still in season. Thankfully other supermarkets such as Supervalu are stocking them, but shouldn't it be the norm rather than the exception?
So Irish apples may not be as tasty as imports, but there are many uses for them apart from eating them in their raw format. At the Savour Kilkenny weekend the Futureproof Kilkenny group were pulping apples and handing out apple juice to passersby. It struck me then that if every parish owned a pulper/juicer wouldn't it be a great excuse for a community harvest knees up (River Cottage style perhaps)?
I'm really hoping that this event is just the beginning of something good, something that can grow and develop and be another step towards communities working together. I'm hoping that it will be a chance for people to learn about communities becoming more sustainable and at the very least, a darn good excuse to get together and have a bit of an old fashioned knees up.
What do you think?
If you're living in the Republic of Ireland and would like to participate in the green home scheme where you can monitor your household's performance with the aim of reducing your environmental footprint, you can register your interest here.