Damsons in Distress

Abundance – September 4th 2011

It’s that time of year again when the Abundance lot whack out their heavy duty scrumping bags, pull on their woolly jumpers, take one last appreciative look at their beards in the mirror and head out a- hunting fruit.

The organisation is based on a pretty cool concept. They describe themselves as ‘a team of volunteers who have been helping harvest city fruit and redistributing the surplus to the community on a non-profit basis – to community cafes, nurseries, Surestarts and individuals’. You can sign up to the mailing list here.

Which is what I did. Easy.

Having taken some dodgy directions from no less than three shopkeepers, my somewhat late and soggy self arrived at the garden in Montgomery Road where Abundance were harvesting.

I’m greeted by Tom, who is a chipper, go-getting sort of a bloke. He’s running today’s picking session, and welcomes me into a varied group who are contemplating what to do with this Damson tree, which has kindly been left in our hands by the owners who have gone for a picnic.

We shake it like a Polaroid picture, and (gently) smack that branch all on the floor until eventually the tree drops the plums like they’re hot onto the tarpaulin below.

They get sorted into three categories: ‘eatables’, ‘jam and gin-ables’ and compost-ables . We each bag some up to take home.

It’s a simple process, and a simple pleasure. When we’re finished, we share whatever food we’ve brought with each other, names are exchanged, and with any luck we’ll see each other again next time.

You might get wet, a little bit dirty and have the occasional face-off with a displaced spider. But Abundance is good for you, and especially I reckon, good for children. They see adults taking responsibility for their environment, learn where food comes from, and take in first-hand the value of teamwork.

This sort of project doesn’t work though unless plenty of people get involved. So don your fake beard and help a damson in distress. And enjoy the fruits of your labour.

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