Every year, hundreds of fruit trees in Ireland are left unpicked, and one organization has swooped in to create a volunteer network to try and prevent the heaps of uncalled-for waste.
The Falling Fruit Urban Harvesting Project began in Dublin in 2015, and has since begun expanding to all across the country.
The team at Falling Fruits Ireland organizes volunteers to pick fruit from private gardens, on industrial waste sites, roadsides, church grounds, etc.
The first share of the fruit is given to the owner of the source, and the rest is distributed to local charities. The volunteer is rewarded through fruit too.
When there is an abundance of fruit, Falling Fruit Ireland encourages people to juice it, make jam or freeze it as ways of conservation.
A European Protection Agency (EPA)-funded research report on Reducing Commercial Food Waste in Ireland found that vegetables are the most commonly wasted food type in supermarkets, with 20% going to waste, followed by fruit, with 16% wasted.
In 2021, Food Cloud redistributed a total of 3,162t of food donated by Irish food producers, distributors and retailers, supporting 650 community groups.
Falling Fruit Ireland links with Food Cloud for its volunteer programme.
It also distributes fruit to charities such as Saint Vincent de Paul, Penny Dinners, the Simon Community, and family resource centers.
The group has shared goals for its future. Here are some examples of goals it hopes to achieve:
- To create sustainable habits in local communities, by passing fruit on to local people;
- To create jam making and cross functional workshops;
- To offer pruning expertise in order to allow tree owners to obtain the full potential from their trees;
- Expanding the organization to other natural resources, such as wild food foraging.
Falling Fruit Ireland is calling on people to get involved, by volunteering to pick fruit, donating part of their tree to the local community, or donating surplus vegetables for distribution to food charities.
Those with information on new places for distributing the fruit or those interested in the processing of the products have also been asked to help.