Hi there Global Gorillas !
Id just like to write a few words about the abundance project which me and a friend started in sheffield ( though im sure the idea is as old as time ......)
I was born in sheffield and as i was growing up i couldn't help notice the fruit trees each autumn dripping with fruit. when i was 18 or so i began harvesting some fruits from unwanted public trees and when i was 20 or so i began to start mapping them so that i didn't forget them. a year after mapping about 80 trees across the city a friend came as said that she wanted to start a community fruit harvesting project, to harvest the unwanted fruit and redisitribute it for free to community groups who find it hard to access fresh local organic food. We got a small amount of funding money to cover our transport costs and fliers, posters and phone calls and we organised a bunch of volunteers to get together to harvest the trees. many trees are in private gardens - the owners of such trees have so much they don't know what to do with it.our main aim is to get them informed of all the different things you can do with the fruit so that owners of fruit trees begin to start there own redistribution project. but there will always be some need for a group of us to harvest trees because old people cannot always harvest the fruit, busy parents haven't got the time or families go on holiday just at fruit harvest time......
Now we have been on the national telly twice, river cottage with Hugh Fernley and BBC breakfast as well as all the local radio and newpapers, lots of people want to get involved. We have over 200 trees on the map and we are reaching out to both those who have too much fruit and those who have non and would love some free fruit. We are teaching pruning skills in the winter to promote the health and yield of the fruit trees and also are beginning to plant many frui trees across the city, encouraging others to do the same. Sheffield is an abundant place, but there are always areas which dont have fruit trees, and its these areas where the abundance project aims to create abundance by planting trees and teaching the skills to create abundance.
(you can read more about the happenings of abundance sheffield on growsheffield.com)
Groups from all round the country have contacted us to say that they would like to set up abundance proects. We have allready branched out to Manchester and leeds which now have there own little havesting groups. Organic Lea in london have been doing an abundance style project for some time now before we started in sheffield, but through selling the produce. Soon we will have abundance style projects in Bristol, brighton, Bedford, Plymouth, Oxford , Reading, Cardiff, and the seeds are being sown to try getting them set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh....my vision is to have an abundance project in every major city by the end of 2009.
Last year we were contacted by people in Austrailia who wanted to set up a similar project and also Calafornia - a group called Forage Oakland who have been doing a project directly parralel to Abundance sheffield. It is becoming global - like the 100 monkey affect - when so many people know how to do it everyone knows how to do it - a colective consiousness about finding food from trees..... I feel that this is all happening because we can feel that great changes are a foot, and that soon we will all have to know how to source our own food, without so much support from the present food supplying systems, which rely heavily on fossil fuels. I heard reports from a friend in brazil, that the farmers out there are leaving huge food mountains in the fields to rot because it costs them more to get it off the land than the supermarkets will pay them for. local people are getting vans and driving this food from the land to redistribute to their communities.....
I am currently in the process of traveling round the county visiting groups who are interested in the abundance idea and giving them slideshows and talks to inspire them to try out similar projects. I am a "food grower" - well all that means is that i try to produce enouf food to ultimately not need to buy any. Here in the UK you dont get fruit all year round so i grow salads, roots, seeds, pulses and grains to ensure at least something fresh from the earth all year round. For me, Abundance is a root into the world or organic food growing - it is a project that attracts alot of people to it because its instantly rewarding. A little shake of a branch and hundreds of fruits fall into the tarp....the glut that you never knew what to do about can now be enjoyed by people who really need fresh organic food..... a tree is so big that you need a team of you to harvest it, and you make friends in the process. Abundance builds community.
I feel that a strong, supportive, loving community is the essential building block, the cornerstone for a life of abundance. I would love to hear from any other groups around the world who have set up or are interested in setting up similar projects in their community. It would be great to have a universal abundance group by 2012......