Staff from Midland law firm FBC Manby Bowdler swapped their legal briefs for baskets to spend a day harvesting fruit and vegetables to benefit local organisations and families in need.
Solicitors, paralegals and administrative staff collected more than 150 lbs of fruit and vegetables from Bearstone Fruit Farm on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border that were donated York House in Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury, and Lea Road United Reform Church and St John’s Parish Hall in Wolverhampton.
The church used some of the produce for one of its regular community lunches. The remainder of the produce is being frozen and used at its Roma drop-in and café as jams, cordials, jellies and crumbles.
St John’s Parish Hall in St John’s Square, next to the FBC Manby Bowdler office, gave the produce to people in need in the local community.
York House, a not for profit residential home for people with learning disabilities, has frozen and processed the produce for use at the home.
The 18-strong team collected around £500-worth of raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, carrots, beetroot, broad beans and rhubarb in a tradition called ‘gleaning’.
Gleaning is a relatively new concept to the UK but is an age-old European tradition from the Middle Ages where land-owners would invite the poor on to their land to gather the fruit that had been left unharvested.
The idea was the brainchild of FBC Manby Bowdler paralegal Samantha Roberts, whose father John started the fruit farm 44 years ago.
She said: “At the end of a season a lot of the fruit ends up going to waste. This is mainly because there may have been a bumper crop and there may be a glut of strawberries and other soft fruit on the market.
“As the farm is mainly pick your own, it’s not cost-effective to harvest the produce and it is difficult to find somewhere that will take a one off delivery due to a surplus, so gleaning was the obvious solution.
“I had the idea that an FBC Manby Bowdler team could take a day out and gather the fruit and deliver it to these organisations who could put it to good use, rather than see it go to waste.”
“The fruit was delicious and there was more than we volunteers could possibly pick in one day but we were delighted to gather so much to help the organisations.”
Niall Blackie, senior partner at FBC Manby Bowdler, said: “I was delighted that Samantha thought of this idea. It was such a good way for the firm to help Bearstone Fruit Farm and make a kind gesture to three such worthy causes.”