Each year staff and students are invited to join the University gardens team harvesting fruit on campus. The fruit is used for apple pressing (link), for the campus apple bake off (link) or to take home. Fruit is harvested on campus from existing mature trees includes pears, sweet chestnuts, apples and plums and now the Fruit Routes trees
Fruit harvesters include overseas students who are keen to learn about fruit growing in this country as well as representatives from the different university residential halls and student volunteers. One year we had a volunteer from the circus skills student group with his own stilts which was very useful for apple picking! The Campus Nursery children have taken part in harvesting and apple pressing as well as entering the bake off. Mature fruit trees are located all over campus including West Park, student housing on Ashby Road, near the Student Union, in the garden of campus wardens. A particularly tall pear is situated outside of COGS bike shop. The taller trees can pose some challenges for harvesting: luckily we have tall apple picking poles and often resort to holding out a tarpaulin and shaking the tree. This tends to result in lots of apples but they tend to bruise so don’t keep for long. If there is time and people power we tend to hand pick the fruit so the fruit keeps for longer. It can store for several weeks to several months depending on the variety. If the apples don’t taste great they are used for juicing or cooking. The sweet chestnuts on campus have increasingly been ripening to a good size – perhaps because our summers are getting warmer? These are regularly harvested after the squirrels have had some, and roasted over the fire. We learnt at one event that in Italy they are peeled and eaten raw. There are new Sweet Chestnut trees on Fruit Routes.