The vision of Fruit Routes is to plant fruit, nut trees and edible plants along footpaths and cycle paths across the university campus creating a spring snowfall of blossom and an autumnal abundance of fresh fruits and berries for harvesting, eating and distributing. Fruit Routes provides an enriched habitat for people, plants, insects and animals as well as a location for cultural activities and outdoor learning.
Fruit Routes started in 2011 when Anne-Marie was invited to submit a proposal to RADAR (Loughborough University Arts) as part of a season of work working with artists/food systems/horticulture. The vision of Fruit Routes was presented to the Sustainability and Gardens teams and taken forward by Jo Shields, the Associate Head of Sustainability. Fruit Routes then became part of the University Master Plan with planting of the first trees in 2012. In 2022, after ten years, the project has been passed into the care of a Steering Group made up of staff, students and local people.
There’s something so simple and so powerfully celebratory about this project. I have no doubt that it will continue to prosper and grow for many years to come Jonathan Porritt CBE
Anne-Marie Culhane is an artist who works with people and places at a time of climate and ecological emergency. Her practice involves drawing people into closer connection with the land and each other working across a range of disciplines and artforms and different communities. This includes many years working with urban orchards, activism and arts.
You can read more about the ethos and principles in the Fruit Routes Charter and also how to get involved.
Fruit Routes is supported by the Gardens and Sustainability Team at Loughborough University and works with the Landscaping Our Society Group (LAGS), School of Design and Creative Arts, Transition Loughborough, RADAR and LU Arts, the Institute of Advanced Studies and other university faculties and members of the local community.
At the centre of the Transitions Festival was the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Anne-Marie Culhane’s extraordinary living artwork, Fruit Routes. Entrusted to the care of the University as more than a collector’s piece, Fruit Routes is an invitation to undertake the work of living as art, as a creative, material engagement with permaculture ethics – a commitment wholly in keeping with Loughborough’s determination to help create the possibility of a more sustainable and equitable world through knowledge and innovation.
Throughout the days and into the evenings, the Route provided riches – old friendships renewed over teas, cakes, and conversations, new friendships forged through song, stories and walks. Time and again our campus community opened to a wider local community through the festivities. This is part of Fruit Routes magic; that it creates a safe and welcoming space for diversity of many kinds. There is, of course, the encouragement of biodiversity across the campus, but more than that, it brings different communities together – school students, local families and academics, international scholars from many different disciplines, young people and more mature visitors – sharing their wisdom, their stories, and their time. As part of the life of the route. Fruit Routes is proof positive that the edge is always where the action is! It was with great pleasure that I partook in the feast that is Fruit Routes at the Transitions Festival and its flavours linger with me still. Most lasting was a wish I made when holding the skep, that generations of students, scholars, artists, activists and community members will share in its stewardship going forward, continuing to nurture the Route for many festivals yet to come.