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Volunteers pick surplus fruit from your trees

Many fruit trees in private gardens produce more fruit than their owners can use – but an association is offering to harvest the unwanted crop and turn it into jam to be sold.

Cueillette Solidaire is managed by Sophie Allain of The Renouer Association, based in Grasse, which helps the long-term unemployed. People in the area with gardens growing fruit trees, lavender bushes or other produce can ask workers from the project to harvest them. In doing so it does not go to waste and rotting fruit does not attract wasps.

“Harvesting is done by our workers alongside volunteers. It’s fun and it creates community ties and links between people,” Ms Allain said.

Volunteers take some produce home; the rest is sold fresh or is processed and sold at their online shop boutique.renouer.com. They make jams like green tomato or watermelon as well as marmalade, olive oil, lavender bags, herbal teas, chestnut purée, orange-flower water and gingerbread.

The project has created 15 jobs and attracted 150 regular volunteers since it was set up in 2012. Last winter they harvested 15 tons of olives and six of Seville oranges.

“Some people have inherited large tracts of land, often planted with fruit or olive trees, but they are not farmers and have no means of harvesting the fruit from 30 or 40 trees. In other cases, the land belongs to retired farmers or people who are too old or infirm to do the harvest themselves.    

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