The Fruit Factory, Brighton Permaculture Trust’s headquarters in Stanmer Village, is home to the scrumping project, which turns waste fruit into raw or pasteurised apple juice, cider, cider vinegar, chutneys, jams and more. These are then sold outside the Fruit Factory every Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm – we recommend the apple & cherry juice. Viva spoke to BPT’s Schools Project Manager, and co-ordinator for the project, Stephan Gehrels.
The scrumping project launched around eight years ago. We were seeing a lot of fruit going to waste, whether that’s in farms or people’s gardens, or here in Stanmer Park, where there were a couple of orchards not being used [the scrumping project now maintains three orchards in the park]. Out of that came the idea of trying to make good use of all this fruit, and to turn it into yummy products.
People can come along on a Saturday or Sunday to drop off their fruit. We can swap it for a few bottles of juice if they want, but mainly the idea is that people can bring fruit and see it go to good use. Sometimes they can see it being juiced there and then.
Members of the public can come and have a look, or join in, or throw a few apples in the mill. We use a cold pressing method, called a hydro press. Once the juice goes through a mill, it goes into a container with a giant balloon in the middle. As that water balloon fills up, it presses the juice out of the fruit. It’s amazing raw juice: you can really taste the difference.
When we pasteurise, I also play around with different flavours: we’ve got a ginger apple juice, classics like mint, a fiery and a super fiery – we have quite a few chilli addicts who come and get the super fiery. We do a turmeric and black pepper one, which really changes the taste of the juice. It almost tastes tropical, like mango or passionfruit.
Apple Day is our biggest event, at the end of September every year. At one of our most well attended events, we sold nearly 2,000 litres of cider. It’s about showcasing what our project is trying to do. For thousands of years, people have celebrated the food around them, so this project is about trying to bring that back. To minimise eating food from abroad, and to focus on our local resources. A huge part of our carbon footprint is how we get our food, so trying to eat local is one of the biggest things we can do as individuals to make a difference.
We are always encouraging and welcoming volunteers to get involved. Some of the most popular activities are picking the apples, making the apple juice, helping with pasteurising. People can go onto the website for more information. They then get an email with volunteering opportunities, such as working on the scrumping project, planting fruit trees or helping in a local school.