The world may be going to hell in a handcart, but the local fruit harvest this year looks phenomenal.
On my small patch I have a bumper crop of ripe figs – enough for me to be able to pick 3 or 4 every day, and as I’m the only one here who likes them, plenty for me. I confess they rarely get as far as the kitchen. The temptation to eat them straight from the tree is too great. My apple trees are not yet at the ‘bearing lots of fruit’ stage, they’re just babies still. But even so, several of the trees have some beautiful fruit that will ripen over the next few weeks. There are raspberries galore, and the more you pick the more you get with these beauties. The rhubarb, which I’ve been pulling since early March, keeps on coming too.
Yesterday we visited youngest son and family at the farm where they live, and we took granddaughter out to a nearby cafe-in-an-orchard. There are rows and rows of plums and apples, including greengages and damsons, which you rarely see these days because they’re difficult to grow as a commercial crop. These are PYO, and I did. Granddaughter ‘helped’ me pick several kilos of greengages and some plums, which I’ll use to make jam and bottled fruit for the winter. I say ‘helped’: her role was mainly as taste tester. She knows how to enjoy a greengage does that little one, and she reminded me several times not to forget to take out the stone from the middle. Which was helpful.
And as we enter the season of gluts, I read that for the first time ever our local allotment association and Transition Bath have been working with the local council to collect surplus produce from our site to share them with local organisations providing food and meals for people who struggle to afford fresh food. How sensible is that! And about time too. I hate to see plot holders putting perfectly good produce onto their compost heaps because they can’t make use of it.
(And on a side note, why do we talk about ‘food poverty’ as if somehow it is something different? Surely it is just one aspect of poverty – the absence of enough income to be able to afford to buy the necessities of life. Which I take to be, at the very least, nourishment, shelter, fuel, clothing, and the normal trappings of local life).