I came across Sharon on Twitter. She is the founder of the Fruitshare initiative. It is an internet-based project where people with surplus garden fruit can share their harvests – a great way to minimise waste and encourage local food sustainability. The project is non-profit making and has now been re-developed in partnership with Orange Pippin, an online resource for apples and orchards run by Richard Borrie. Being someone who hates waste and loves having a go at fruit growing, I fell in love with the project immediately and took the opportunity to ask Sharon some questions about her ongoing plans.
What’s your motivation behind the Fruitshare initiative?
As a professional gardener, I see so much fruit going to waste in people’s gardens and every autumn I become completely overwhelmed with their fruit. Determined not to let it go to waste I return home with bags full of apples, plums, damsons, even crab apples and sloes. I then become manic in the kitchen making pies, puddings and preserves…followed by handing over the rest at unsuspecting family and friends. There’s always so much of it.
Finally something struck me…how much garden-grown fruit is actually going to waste up and down the country? There must be tonnes upon tonnes. http://www.fruitshare.net is my little solution to help make the most out of the country’s forgotton fruits by allowing people to post their surpluses on to the fruitshare website.
What are your key stats at the moment and what are you hoping to achieve?
Fruitshare is a new initiative and building up the number of registrants is the key to its success. Currently we have around 600 registrants [including both Seekers and Sharers] from around the world. Spreading the word about Fruitshare is our current mission to help increase awareness of the initiative and the number of registrants.
I would like Fruitshare to grow and grow each season, eventually becoming the first port of call for people with surplus fruits to share. I would like to develop Fruitsharing events in areas up and down the country to help promote the project and bring local people together. Fruitsharing events that celebrate all aspects of harvest time from fruit sharing, apple tasting, fruit identifying, jam-making and juicing workshops…I have lots of dreams for Fruitshare.
Do you have any tips for those who would like to start growing fruit at home or in their allotment?
Fruit is remarkably easy to grow, more so than vegetables. It is even easier then caring for a lawn, honestly. Most fruit is tough and forgiving and will in most cases reward you with abundant crops. The reasons for this is that fruit comes in reliable fuss-free forms such as perennials, canes, shrubs and trees, and, once happy in their position, will just get on with the growing whether you’re around to carefully tend or not.
Strawberries are one of the easiest to start with. Simply source some good specimens from your local nursery or get yourself some free ones and plant into your border, raised bed or container. As long as they are watered and get some sunlight they will grow on to produce an abundance of deliciously sweet strawberries.
The most important element to growing fruit successfully has to be situation; a sunny aspect is a must. There are plants that will fruit in the more shady positions like rhubarb and raspberries, but as a general rule of thumb, a sunny place is the way to go.
For more tips on growing fruit see Sharon’s blog.
What’s your favourite fruit harvest and why?
Gosh, that’s a difficult one. A patch of home-grown, sweet, juicy strawberries is probably my favourite fruit harvest. Supermarket-bought varieties are nowhere near as tasty as strawberries picked fresh from your garden. They’re also the easiest to grow.
If you’d like more information about Sharon or the Fruitshare initiative, you can get in touch via her website.