by Alex Dunn of SusWot

Can we use locally grown fruit and vegetables that will otherwise go to waste?

In the Autumn some Bristolians will be buying fruit and vegetables whilst others will have grown fruit and vegetables that will not be harvested at all. In 2011 can we connect the two? We all know and understand the issue. Thousands of fruit trees where fruit is left to drop, gardeners and allotment holders with surpluses they can’t give away and food being shipped to Bristol from all over the world.

There are organisations that do try to tackle this problem. I’ve heard of one that will pick apples or pears for you and turn it into cider. And there are the occasional entrepreneurial allotment holders who will barter with their local greengrocer. But with food prices soaring and money short surely we can do a more?

The benefits for our city could be great. Less waste, people eating locally grown fresh food probably produced without using many chemicals and communities brought together with some shared harvesting activities. We could all eat foods that were in season because they were so cheap, fresh and available. Perhaps local greengrocers could become distribution hubs for surplus crops for a percentage of course. We could start talking of food yards and not food miles. Local cooks could show us what to do with all those apples, runner beans, courgettes and the rest.

I would like to hear from anyone who is involved in a group that already tries to tackle this problem. I would like to learn what works and what doesn’t. And I would like to hear from anybody who would like to help with this challenge.

I am a member of SusWot, Sustainable Westbury-on-Trym. In May and June this year we have grown from seed and distributed almost 1,000 tomato plants to people in Westbury-on-Trym. It was a simple project that aimed to help people start growing some of their own food. It was fun and involved lots of people. I hope SusWot will be able to run a project to reduce the amount of wasted crops in Westbury but wouldn’t it be good to do it for all of Bristol?

If you think you could help email me:

Alex Dunn

This article first appeared in in Bristol’s local food update, July-August 2011