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 fĂȘte 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.


Unknown said...

Hi fiona, I've just found your blog. I make everything I possibly can, don't throw anything away and love blogging my stingy way to being greenish.

Mal said...

There's a great song by Michelle Shocked about jam making changing the world. Sadly I can't find it on Youtube. It would make a fitting anthem!

I'm a jam, pickle and country wine maker - on a small scale seasonal basis.

healy said...

Sounds like a perfect fall flavor combination!

daphne said...

That'd be super. . In love with your blog=)

Sig said...

Just catching up on your blog posts Fiona and I love this idea of the swapcrop! On my grandparentts' farm in Norway everyone used to trade fruit or veg for jam, cakes, puddings, occasionally booze if they were lucky!

Love making jam, so far this summer's crop from a local farm in West Sussex yielded plum jam, fruit of the forest and blackcurrant. YUM!

joanne fox said...

Swapcrop sounds a great idea.

We have cooking apple trees and it is always hard work to find enough people to pass our apples on to. Luckily one friend freezes them, and folk at work have taken several bags full, so I am slowly getting the apple mountain down!

Lovely blog. x

Fiona Beckett said...

Thanks for all your comments, all which I've only just caught up with :)