In response to an article in the Feilding Herald, Madz BatachEl has set up a Manawatu branch of Community Fruit Harvesting.
The organisation puts spare produce, pickers, processors and people who need it together.
"I think it's a fantastic idea to have a collection team to distribute fruit to people that need it and I'm really excited about co-ordinating it. I already have a pile of crabapples being made into jelly. The owners of the tree will receive a few jars, and the rest will be shared with people who need it. They offered the fruit because they did not have the time to process it."
As one of the founders of Manawatu Urban Foraging Group, she takes note of publicly available fruit trees, but has always felt too shy to ask people directly if she can pick fruit which is sitting on trees not being used.
Though the Foragers is for people who gather produce for their own use, Community Fruit Harvesting is a collection team using already-established distribution channels to people who need the fruit or products.
Madz has the support of her five children Hila, 9; Mikah, 8; Rose, 5; Pippin, 3, and Azaziah, 1, and her husband Simon. She said harvesting fruit together was good for the children who experienced a community e thinking about others.
"I am interested in helping to assist the strengthening of local community and I believe that working together with others in this group will help to do that. It is a project that brings people together for something that is mutually beneficial to all parties," Madz said.
"As the co-ordinator I can put together a team and provide guidelines for pickers before they go to a property. They need to think about having consideration for the property and the owner, not tread on gardens, only pick the ripe fruit, and only the fruit they have permission to pick," she said, emphasising that this is a two-way process.
"Some older people have plentiful trees but no longer need the fruit themselves, or are [not ]able to prune the trees, or harvest the fruit," she said. Community Fruit Harvesting will provide pickers, processors, give some of the jam back to the owner of the tree, and make sure the rest is well used. In some cases, no processing will be needed. The fruit can go straight to a food bank for distribution.
There will be people who enjoy making jams or processing fruit in other ways, and Madz's role will include bringing those people together with the sugar, jars and fruit. Then the goods will be distributed or sold through a charity, so eventually what could have been wasted is doing good.
"I have other ideas, like helping people to prune or thin their trees, which will have a positive impact on the amount of fruit available, but we need to get started first."
Anyone who would like to help, and charities who can make use of fresh fruit are also invited to email Madz at email@example.com.
Community Fruit Harvesting is a group which started in the North Shore a year ago and works in nine areas. In Auckland more than 4000kg of fruit and 800 bottles of jam and preserves have been distributed.
- © Fairfax NZ News