Monday, 20 September 2010
Swapcrop - trading fruit for jam
Swapcrop is the latest in a series of initiatives encouraging us all to be more community minded and gain something in the process. (Other examples being Landshare and Freecycle). The basic idea is that people who grow more veg or fruit than they know what to do with should make it available to keen jam and chutney-makers who don’t have a garden or allotment in return for a few jars.
The idea comes from the newly formed Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers whose mission is to ‘promote and encourage jam and preserve making' and to provide a forum for jam makers to swop tips. It’s been set up by Rosemary Jameson, founder of the incredibly useful Jam Jar Shop which provides all kinds of jam-making supplies. Pam Corbin who wrote the excellent River Cottage handbook on Preserves is the president.
Seems like there’s a bit of a jam revival going on at the moment. The WI is holding its first Real Jam Festival at Denman College in Oxfordshire from the 20th-21st of November which sounds like a good old-fashioned village fête with competitions, demonstrations, fresh produce stalls and ‘refreshments’ (when did you last hear that word?). I like some of the tongue-in-cheek categories which include 'Jam in the Public Eye' for celebs and 'people of high office e.g. MPs and archbishops', 'Man Made Jam' (for men) and Children’s Jam.
And then there’s a return of the National Trust’s Chutfest, a two day event at Barrington Court in Somerset on October 2nd and 3rd where jam and chutney makers can swop their produce - and others can buy it. Their categories are rather more conventional though the idea of one devoted specifically to rhubarb and ginger chutney has an endearingly eccentric ring to it.
What I like about both these enterprises is the element of self-help - the barter and the swapping. Something that's always gone on in the country on an informal basis but which can benefit us townies too.
Do you make your own jams and chutneys or do you let your produce go to rot? I have to confess we lived for years in a house with several apple trees and never managed to eat our way through them all. Much to the disapproval of my mum who patiently used to wrap them in newspaper and store them in the garage whenever she came to stay - often to find them rotting away several months later. I still feel guilty when I think of it.