Whilst I was in Portland I was determined to participate in a session with the Portland Fruit Tree Project. Being involved in a similar volunteer-run fruit harvesting project in Manchester, I'd heard about them from afar, and my four days in the city happily co-incided with a Saturday fig harvest.
It was all weirdly familiar, but a more organised (and much hotter) version! I arrived outside the first house to find an A-frame sign and a sign-in table marking the spot. This was followed by a round of introductions, a safety talk and a thorough clean-up and sorting of the already-fallen fruit into acceptable and compostable piles, before picking commenced.
There were lots of tips to take back to Abundance, like separating really the good fruit for the food banks fruit from the slightly bruised pieces that participants could take home as it was picked, instead of double handling it later. They also had some nifty portable weigh scales so they could record the amount of fruit harvested at each garden - it was really nice to be told how much fruit we'd salvaged at the end of the day.
The project is massive, with harvests taking place almost every day during the summer and autumn, as opposed to Abundance which harvests once a week for a couple of months at most. I'd love to see Abundance scaling up to that kind of level, although I haven't figured out yet whether the area of Manchester we operate in could actually sustain that level of picking!