The Brighton Permaculture Trust recently contacted me to tell me about their crowdfunding campaign on Buzzbnk to fund a permanent site for their ambitious Fruit Factory, a fabulous plan that involves turning waste fruit into yummy juices, at the same time offering educational courses to learn more about sustainable living. How could I resist giving them a plug? I’d love to visit if I am ever in the area.
Where did the idea for The Fruit Factory come from?
We were aware that lots of fruit went unharvested around the city, simply rotting on the ground. We started to pick this fruit and process it into juices, chutneys, etc at pop up locations and found that people wanted the products and wanted to see them made. Now we want to up scale so we can process up to 40 tons of fruit a year; Stanmer was the obvious choice as it is next to a small orchard we manage and lots of people pass by.
Who collects the fruit and where does it come from?
It is collected by Brighton Permaculture team volunteers and workers. It comes from various places – private gardens, public spaces, and fruit farms (fruit that the retailers don’t want).
What would happen to the fruit if it did not come to the Fruit Factory?
It would often be left to rot; going to waste and causing a nuisance.
How do you physically process 40 tons of fruit every year?
The majority will be used for juice. In a day we can press half a ton of fruit to make 250 litres of juice. We like to sell the juice fresh when we can as it tastes better and is more nutritious, but fresh juice only lasts a couple of days before it goes off and so we pasteurise what’s left to give it a year or two’s shelf life.
Who built the straw bale building that houses the factory?
The straw bale construction was built by participants on two of our straw bale courses last year.
What will the money raised by Buzzbnk go towards?
It will finish the structure itself so we will be able to put on a roof and doors and windows, and render the walls.
The Fruit Factory has plans for learning, what will you offer?
We help schools and communities to plant orchards (90 to date with our partners). People involved in these orchards and interested individuals want to learn how to care for fruit trees and process the juice. We have been involved with this work for 10 years but the Fruit Factory will allow us to up scale what we are offering. We are also planning a programme of school visits so that children can learn about where fruit comes from, about orchards and wildlife, and also how to prepare fruit.
For someone who might not know what permaculture means, how can it be explained in just a few sentences?
Nature created the abundant world we have inherited. Permaculture is a design system that draws on lessons from nature to design for our human needs. Obviously this includes growing food in natural ways as well as building energy efficient buildings from natural materials.
What other projects is the Brighton Permaculture Trust involved with?
We run a number of courses in sustainable living, from teaching people how to prune fruit trees to an accredited Permaculture Design course. We also run annual events Green Architecture Day and Apple Day. A large amount of our work is focussed on school/community orchard planting and teaching people how to care for the orchards when planted.
How does the Brighton trust network with other permaculture organisations across the UK and beyond?
We are a member of the Permaculture Association and have connections with a number of other Permaculture projects in the UK. A number of the tutors on our courses are from other organisations that are working in similar fields, and we have a number of local organisations in Sussex that we work very closely with and often in partnership with on different projects.
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