Both 2016 and so far in 2017 have been fairly quiet for WEN Abundance, mainly because some members moved away and I was very busy with both work and being PTA Chair for my sons school! In addition, in 2016 we had a tough year crop wise. Our Orchard in Walmer Gardens, whilst well maintained lost all the apples to parakeets so we had to rely on the harvest from some member allotments for our apple juice. We also found that as people are more aware of what fruit is in season and where to find it they tended to pick and make their own jams and chutneys so our sales as a result started to fall.
We have however made our famous elderflower cordial and this is sold local in Cheddar deli, Northfields Avenue W13 as well as the Orchard Café on Singapore Road W13. We will also be picking apples and making juice again this year and selling via these outlets.
Watch this space for more news!
We had another good elderflower pick, but we had to get in quick as the season was so short and the weather variable. We also found a new picking location which had smaller trees so the elderflowers were a lot easier to get to. We made around the same amount of cordial this year at 170 bottles. These are currently for sale at Cheddar Deli, Northfields Avenue. In February our Orchard had another professional prune and in June through to September we are having monthly clear ups there to get rid of the ivy, nettles and brambles as well as keeping the grass cut. We are engaging locals to Walmer Gardens to help us out and at our first clear up a few of these turned up to help – this was lovely! We decided against Hanwell Carnival this year for two reasons – stock was very low and we hadn’t even picked the elderflowers, plus takings have decreased over the years not really making it worth our while. Further updates as the year progresses!
What WEN Abundance did in 2014
2014 was generally a poor year for fruit. We had few requests to pick in neighbours back gardens with most of the apples for our juice coming from an allotment holder who is part of WEN Abundance. Elderflowers were good so we managed to make and sell around 175 bottles. We strengthened our relationship with local trader Cheddar Deli on Northfields Avenue where we sell our apple juice, cordial and chutneys. We also supply to Ealing’s Edible Box scheme too. The West Ealing Soundbite Festival took place so we had a stall there and we scaled back on other carnivals and events – mainly due to lack of stock. We had a professional in to prune the Orchard at Walmer Gardens and whilst the trees are improving we were really disappointed to find out that the parakeets stole all our apples! We are hoping the same doesn’t happen in 2015!
What WEN Abundance did in 2013
It was a better year than 2012 but still patchy. We picked a lot of elderflower in May and made and sold loads of cordial; we picked blackberries but they weren’t brilliant (remember all that rain?); we had a fair amount of apples (thanks all local tree donaters). We had some successful fairs (in spite of the rain) including one at The Fox just before Christmas (remember the cold!!). We found some new outlets for our produce. Thanks all lovely volunteers pickers and orchard clearers.
What WEN Abundance did in 2012
As you are all aware last year was very poor for fruit and we had very little opportunity to pick. We did have a pruning workshop at our Orchard in Walmer Gardens and held another one in February 2013. The trees have been neglected for so long it will be at least 2-3 more years before they are hopefully fully restored to their best. The London Orchard Project have been instrumental in helping us with this initiative for which we are very grateful.
Support from The London Orchard Project and full Ealing Council sign off to take over Walmer Gardens Orchard and renovate. We worked with Ealing Transition as they are also using the Orchard for their first beehive. Work started in January 2012 to clear and run pruning workshops.We were much more accurate with our picking and measuring this year – overall we picked around 1.5 metric tonnes of fruit.
- We managed to meet all requests to pick from private locations.
- We were more organised and had more volunteers for jam/chutney making and have made more chutney this year ready for 2012 and the potential to sell to local independent retailers (who already sold our juice)
- We identified suitable kitchen facilities to run jam/chutney making workshops that we will fully utilise in 2012. We did run workshops in conjunction with Ealing Transition events that went well.
- Increased the number of fairs/carnivals we attended.
BACKGROUND TO WEN ABUNDANCE
I am Diane from West Ealing Neighbours a local residents group (www.westealingneighbours.org.uk). Abundance was started in 2007 by WEN. The idea came from an apple tree in a friends of WENs garden. The owner of the apple tree was unable to pick the fruit and as a result the apples were going to waste. We had heard of the Abundance initiative in Manchester and Sheffield and thought we could try something ourselves, albeit on a smaller scale. In our first year we picked the apples and gave them away to local residents. In 2008 we wanted to be slightly more ambitious and involve the local community in a project that saw huge quantities of unwanted fruit that would normally go to waste turned into products (in this case Jams and Chutneys) These were also made by the local community and sold to the public via a craft fair held in one of the local churches that is very much focused on the local community. In 2009 we continued with our Jams and chutneys but also involved the local community in cookery masterclasses.
After expanding considerably in 2010, we secured funding from the local Ward Forum to purchase fruit pickers, storage bags, an apple press, pasteuriser and apple crusher, while Waitrose lent fruit crates for storage. The local press (website, radio and paper) has been very supportive and local word of mouth is positive, extensive and growing. We were also part of a nationwide Abundance network than won the grassroots category of the Observer Ethical Awards.
2011 saw even more success, securing Walmer Gardens Orchard renovation project. This is a little known run down Orchard in W13 and we will be working with one of Ealing Council’s park ranger as well as The London Orchard Project on this 2-3 year project. We also picked more fruit and accurately weighed it. Due to the large quantities of fruit we pick we juiced most of it via commercial operations and sold the juice via stalls as well as local independent retailers.
2012 was the quietest year for us since the inception of Abundance. Luckily we had enough produce to sell at our usual carnivals/fairs. 2013 was better than 2012, but weather still had a massive impact on the harvest. This followed through in 2014.
West Ealing Abundance works on a purely voluntary basis. Any monies made from the sale of jams and chutneys are ploughed back into the project.