The nights are drawing in and the majority of harvesting has come to an end, and what better way to celebrate this hinter-wonder-land between autumn and Christmas than creating some homemade chutneys courtesy of one of the many Abundance Project harvests around the country?

These clever people have been busy harvesting and making use of neglected fruit trees all season. They consist of proactive groups of volunteers who help to harvest city fruit and redistribute the surplus to the community on a non-profit basis, for community cafes, fayres, nurseries, Surestarts and individuals. Anyone is encouraged to go along and get involved, and with free food and outdoor fun on offer how could I refuse?

I arrived at the arranged meeting point and was greeted with smiling faces and welcoming conversation, of course, it helps if the weather is great and it was a perfect evening for a spot of tree climbing. I was a little nervous at first because it’s while since I scaled a trunk but once we arrived at our destination and started work on the garden’s three heavily laden apple trees I was in my element. With just a couple of hours’ work the three of us managed to fill nearly 20 receptacles. After we’d taken our pick there were still more than enough crates to cater for the various community projects that benefit from the abundance of fruit.

The optimum time to get involved is obviously from August until November but there’s no harm in getting on to your local group’s mailing list or checking out the website to find out more about upcoming events in your area. And if you don’t have a local group, there is nothing stopping you from setting up your own and gearing up for next year’s bounty. The Sheffield branch recently produced a beautifully illustrated handbook on urban harvesting, which is available online for any budding harvesters.

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