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It’s not always about winning. Sometimes it’s about turning adversity into advantage.

It’s that difficult time of year in the garden. Harvesting the last of the summer veg, taking down the spent annuals. But this year at the EE gardens, it’s also dealing with some problems. But we’ve been learning how to turn adversity into advantage.

Our little recovered orchard has had a good and bad year. The early summer heat and poor rainfall discouraged our plum trees from fruiting. But the trees are healthy. And we still remember the amazing taste of the plums from last year. So, we’ll take care of them this winter and hope for the best next year.

The apple trees had a wild summer. Some of the trees fruited for the first time in years. One tree was so overburdened with ripe apples that branches split! And the late summer windstorms knocked everything around.

The apple trees taught us a lesson. We had talked about making a big effort to harvest the apples into boxes for delivery to the local food bank. But at the last minute, some resources we thought we had, didn’t appear. And there were other problems which m eant we couldn’t harvest as many apples as we hoped. But instead of harvesting apples, we’re making better plans and cementing in resources for next year.

We’re making the most of it. The wildlife rescue foxes recently released on the land are feasting on the sweet and tart apples bounced everywhere. Our plentiful windfall box is filling up. We’ll be using these to feed the wormery we’re planning to build soon. There’s no waste in an EE garden.

A favourite distraction is inviting…or more like dragging… someone who’s never been in an orchard before into the shade of the trees weighed down by fruit. We explain the different trees and help them choose an apple to pick. Some of these visitors have never picked their own fruit before. They haven’t been exposed to how food arrives on their plate. Their faces have a look of awe as they choose their own apple, asking questions such as ‘can I really just eat this now?’ This is followed by the inevitable widened eyes as they experience the just-picked sweetness of a locally grown apple. Perhaps they’ll look at food, and how it’s grown, differently. These little experiences can have profound changes.

We’ve had some profound changes at our other garden, too. The last windstorms have taken apart our polytunnels. We were due to replace them but were waiting for the last of the cherry tomatoes to stop fruiting before pulling it all down. Well, the wind decided otherwise. Luckily, our hardworking volunteers have completed the trenching for one. We’re just waiting for the wind to drop so we can put it up.

This clears the decks for our new vermiculture focus. And it’s given us the opportunity to clear even more land to double our potato output, which was so popular at the food bank this year.

Just as we’re clearing out the summer plants, we’re clearing out more than our gardens in preparation for a new season of growing, learning and renewal.


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