Hackney group count the fruits of their labours

An environmental group in Stoke Newington have one aim; to make sure the fruit trees of Hackney don’t go to waste

Forget thoughts of swaying fields of corn and combine harvesters chugging along in the sunshine.

Hackney can provide the equal of any bucolic harvesting scene, though fruit is the crop in demand in Stoke Newington and not rows of wheat or barley.

A new group called Hackney Harvest are on a mission to find all the fruit trees, both public and private, first in Stoke Newington and eventually in the whole of Hackney and then make sure none of the trees’ precious bounties go to waste, from apples to pears to almonds and apricots.

Their project aims to raise awareness of the fruit trees all around us and even promote environmentally-sustainable lifestyles and the group took time out on September 18 to pluck crab apples in the grounds of the Shacklewell Lane Mosque.

Group founder, Jamie Beevor, 31, of Rectory Road, said: “You get your tarp under the tree, give the tree a whack and they come tumbling down.

“Some fruit trees can produce up to 100 kilos a year.

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“I think a lot of people aren’t sure what to do with that much fruit.

“We’re trying to encourage people to make the most of it.”

Jamie set the group up at the start of this year with mapping of trees in Stoke Newington taking place over the summer and now harvesting on weekends, culminating in an Apple Day at William Patten School in Church Street on October 16.

On just their first mapping day they found 59 trees bearing fruits including cherries, figs and even medlars, which Jamie describes as ‘a weird fruit which you leave to rot until it sweetens up.”

Members look for trees in public areas and also in residents’ gardens, then knocking on doors to discuss the project and offering to harvest trees with the owners’ permission.

Jamie said: “We’re trying to not annoy people by looking into their gardens.

“There are lots more to find, just in Stoke Newington.

“In general the project has been received incredibly well. Some people look at you like you’re a little bit weird, but that can sometimes happen with environmental projects.”

Jamie points to Manor Road and the community orchard near The Shakespeare pub in Allen Road as particularly plentiful areas.

The group even has plans to pass on their excess hauls to local businesses and community groups, with The Jolly Butchers pub in Stoke Newington High Street expressing an interest.

“You can imagine you’re almost divorced from nature living in London but Hackney is a pretty green borough.

“When you pay attention, you start to see these things all around you.”

? For further information, visit hackneyharvest.com.