Connecting food outlets with people who have surplus fruit. Bringing communities together and ensuring no produce is wasted

From our experience of running Down to Earth, we know that there is a lot of surplus fruit, vegetables and nuts in gardens, allotments and in the countryside that goes to waste every year. The Fruit Exchange gets local food outlets such as restaurants, pubs and cafes to use it.

Since setting up in 2015 the project has since gone from strength to strength. In our first year over 70 exchanges took place. Quantities ranged from an ice cream container of berries to many many kilos of apples! You can find a list of businesses taking part, with a map showing their location here. So if you have fruit going spare, get in contact with your local business and see if they want it.

Keeping it local:

As well as reducing food miles, we believe that freshly harvested local food is the tastiest and most nutritious there is. Gloucestershire has over 100 apple varieties, yet our supermarkets don’t sell them. In fact 95% of the fruit sold in Britain is imported, and even the dried fruit available is mostly grown and produced in China! This is not only unsustainable (and a bit shameful) but unnecessary given a good dose of creative thinking and community organisation.

The Fruit Exchange supports the local food economy and ensures seasonal British home grown food is not wasted. That unwanted produce becomes a very wanted product which the food outlet can sell.

Why fruit often goes to waste:

Our experience of working in gardens has shown us that fruit is left to go to waste for a variety of reasons. Often people just don’t know what to do with it, or don’t have the time or ability to harvest it. With the short period in which many types of fruit are ripe, it is imperative to harvest it at the right time. Otherwise you could be left with piles of unusable apples on your lawn attracting wasps, or rotten fruit creating a mulchy mess in your garden. Please don’t let this happen any more. The Fruit Exchange was introduced because we know only too well just how often and in what quantities potentially great food is wasted, especially in Gloucestershire.

This scheme takes unwanted or surplus perfectly good produce and gives it to businesses who can use it. This scheme also has volunteering opportunities as there are many people who need help picking the fruit themselves.

Seasonal varieties:

With hundreds of varieties of imported fruit and vegetables now available much of the year round, the seasons can lose their meaning. Yet the summer months in Britain bring a wide variety of fruit: gooseberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, apples, pears, plums, cherries, figs, blackberries, quinces, blueberries and more. This isn’t just about fruit through! Any surplus produce is more than welcome – got too much beetroot? A walnut tree which is overloaded? Get us involved and don’t let all that wonderful food go to waste. Perhaps you aren’t even sure of what you have, or when it will be ripe? Please let us know as early as possible, so nothing goes to waste!

We need more businesses taking part:

If you run a cafe, restaurant, pub, juice bar or other food outlet and you’d like to benefit from free local and fresh produce, or on the other hand, you have surplus fruit or other produce available and you would appreciate a free glass of wine or pint at your local, please get in contact.

Down to Earth Stroud is all about bringing the local community together. This project encourages people to connect with their local businesses, and by getting a voucher in return for their produce, encourages them to return and therefore brings customers in to it too!

Contact us:

If you’re interested in offering your surplus fruit, nuts, vegetables or seeds, would like to join us in harvesting, or you are a business in Gloucestershire interested in participating, please email fruitexchange@downtoearthstroud.co.uk or call 07983 998622.

Keep in touch with the project on Facebook and Twitter.

View the results of our project for 2015 (its first year) here and its second year 2016 here.

For 2016 onwards we would like people to take the initiative and contact their local business themselves where possible. To find our list of participating businesses and where to take your fruit please see this page: http://www.downtoearthstroud.co.uk/the-fruit-exchange1/participating-businesses/