Conrad Gauntlett, who will be using his apple processing plant to make juice from windfall, inset. Picture by Robin Crossley.
WE ARE entering the season of less than mellow wastefulness — and I hate it, although I am probably as guilty of it as the next gardener.
For years I’ve wondered if a use could be found for the tons of apples which go to waste each year, not least beneath my trees.
In years past, fruit was precious and would be stored for later use — a valuable source of taste, texture and vitamin C in the days before fruit joined the jet-set.
Today, of course, it is taken for granted that fresh fruit is whisked across the world to a global market regardless of the wider issue of the true cost of the air miles.
No longer is it mainstream to squirrel it away, individually wrapped on trays for those thin days of winter.
So, entering the equation is Conrad Gauntlett, who brings a new dimension to the problem.
Conrad’s Rosemary Vineyard at Ashey has been producing its own apple juice for nearly 28 years, with its own specialised apple press and crusher. It has also won UK Gold Taste awards.
He told me of an idea outside a local hostelry months ago — and now it has come to fruition.
He aims to bring his equipment and his juicing skill to the surplus.
His newly formed Ryde Apple Juicing Co-operative aims not just to cut waste but to press all those apples into wholesome juice.
Conrad serves on Ryde Town Council and he, and it, are great supporters of the Waterside Trust in Ryde, which has rescued an important pool facility from oblivion.
Fruit can be donated to produce juice for sale in its cafe to raise funds or the juice can be bottled and split 50/50 between the gardener and Conrad.
"This aims to prevent waste and support the community," said Conrad.
"It also increases the economic sustainability of the area and reduces food miles by creating quality local produce.
"Bring us your apples and we will press, bottle and pasteurise the juice for people, sharing the juice to cover our costs. We are not trying to attract huge commercial quantities so we have set a limit of 200kg but we don’t want people to think that even if they have just 10kg that is too small to bother with.
"We are especially interested in attracting gardeners.
"Ten kilos of apples makes 5kg of juice — or just over six 75cl bottles split between us — which makes even small quantities a worthwhile proposition."
• People with large quantities of apples can ring 811084 or go to the Smallbrook Lane vineyard, from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, 9am to 4pm on Sundays.