Grapes and apricots in Nether Edge and cherries in Attercliffe cemetery – a new fruit-picking movement in Sheffield has found that the city is much more bountiful than we thought.
When Daniele Rinaudo walks through Sheffield’s streets, he’s not interested in where he’s going.
Daniele is too busy looking at the trees.
For more than five years Daniele, from Meersbrook, has been working with the city’s Abundance Project, which encourages people to pick fruit from the hundreds of trees across the city.
“There is a lot of fruit here in Sheffield though it is seasonal because we have a temperate climate.
“A big part of what we do is spreading the message that there is all this fruit available but we live in a culture that worries about fruit being poisonous.”
In fact, it’s a healthy way to eat.
“It’s good for the budget because it’s free and it’s food that’s good for you. The berries off yew trees are edible but people just believe that everything to do with a yew tree is poisonous.”
And the range of fruit that grows on Sheffield’s fruit trees is quite astonishing. “We get lots of apples, quince, pears from Nether Edge and Sharrow and even cherries in Attercliffe cemetery.”
This year, according to Daniele, will be a bumper year for fruit in Sheffield. “We had a bad frost two years ago and a mild weather this winter and the combination of these means that we should have a good crop this year.”
Daniele, aged 28, has been interested in food since he was a boy. “My father’s Italian so he’s obviously really in his food and I went away after university working on organic farms. I am really interested in food.”
The Abundance Project, Daniele hopes, will remind people about the origins of food – something that’s often forgotten in the cellophane-wrapped supermarket world in which we live today.
“I think people are disconnected from the origins of food, it’s just a case of education.”
And even in the built-up area of Sharrow, where Daniele gives a ‘fruit tour’, it’s surprising what tasty surprises line the streets.
“You see this here,” he says, pointing to a tree just outside Sharrow Primary School.
“This is a crab apple tree but the apples aren’t ready yet – it will be August before they are ripe for picking. Our volunteers used to call this the ‘giblet tree’ because the butchers round the corner used to chuck out all their old meat around here,”
Around the corner is another fruity secret – a line of cherry trees just off Abbeydale Road.
“There are a lot of cherries on these trees but again, they’re not ripe yet. People used to plant these as ornamental trees but they bear a lot of fruit.”
“And this is an elderflower tree,” he says, standing at the foot of a blossoming elder flower tree in Mount Pleasant park.
“You just need to soak the flowers in water and lemon over night, reduce it down and add sugar and then you have delicious cordial. Quite often we hand these recipes out at events.”
The Abundance Sheffield volunteers pick fruit from all these trees. And it’s a lot more athletic than you might think.
“You have to be pretty agile and good at climbing trees,” Daniele says.
But not all fruit-picking requires army-style training.
“Quite often we ask people if we can pick the fruit from the trees in their gardens and they often oblige.”
The fruits of Abundance Sheffield’s labour are redistributed to the homeless, community groups and nurseries across the city.
“The fruit that’s damaged or bruised is processed by our volunteers and made into chutney or apple juice. We go along to a lot of markets and fairs selling our produce.”
There are around 400 volunteers on Abundance Sheffield’s books, though the actual number of people involved on an annual basis is around 100.
“We are looking for area coordinators – volunteers to oversee the different areas of the city in which our volunteers work,” says Daniele.
“The areas include Nether Edge, Heeley and Crookes.”
And it’s worthwhile work, according to Daniele.
“It’s a great social thing to do and it is good fun,” he says.
Food for thought
Abundance Sheffield is part of the lottery-funded Grow Sheffield scheme.
There are 400 volunteers on its books.
Abundance Sheffield picks fruit from trees in public places and private gardens – with permission – across Sheffield.
Among the fruits picked from trees in the city are apricots, grapes, apples and quince.
Daniele has been working on the project since 2008.
For details about getting involved with Abundance Sheffield email firstname.lastname@example.org