We move around town and see many fruit trees loaded with fruit… yet we don’t which may be spoken for, or which someone would simply be happy to see harvested by anyone who will use them rather than seeing them rot on the ground.  There are exciting precedents in other communities for gleaning from local trees, and we want to try to use these resources to organize and disseminate whatever information we gather.  Check out FallingFruit.org to see where we’re hoping to get to.  In the meantime, and if nothing else, we’ll be making physical maps to display. We started with questions.  We’re gathering answers.  We want to make it easier for other folks to inform themselves and get involved in the future.  We like to bundle the falling fruit map and whatever local resources and expertise we identify (like Miller’s Cider Mill in Middlebury) in a readily accessible public resource that folks can go to directly, without having to go through us.  We already have the platform to host and organize it… we just need the “data”. We don’t know apples.  We’ve picked a few and made some cider, but we’re far from experts.  We could hardly help folks identify their apples, suggest their best uses and expound on their history, or advise them on caring for an old tree.  Nor can we really speak to cider making or orcharding as crafts.  We lament that we can’t even point to many folks that could, so part of the goal will to be to identify those local “experts” and connect their knowledge to local questions and interest.  We can then support the experts by facilitating workshops and maintaining networks through which they can disseminate and preserve their knowledge. Being able to set folks up for a day with a press and some basic education would be a catalyst for community gatherings (public or private) that would help build relationships while having a good time and learning something new.  As with many projects coming out of the Transition movement, the best projects seem to be the ones where folks walk away more impressed with the relationships they formed than whatever work they actually accomplished. This would be the jewel in the crown… can we generate enough financial support to procure a press that anyone can use?  We think that in terms of “infrastructure” this resource is low hanging fruit…it’ll enable folks to offer a great pretext for getting together, building relationships, take advantage of abundant fruit, and reduce food waste.  While we may not be able to get it out into the community and make it as fully accessible as we would like to this year, we can hopefully at least purchase it this year, create some stories, and set a great precedent going into next year. Mapping over-laden fruit in the community won’t do much good if we can’t find anyone interested in picking.  We hope it’ll be a chance for people to do something they haven’t necessarily done before… if we can offer use of a press, great… otherwise, we can steer folks to other destinations for pressing apples. Like all things with Transition, our goal is not to introduce something completely new, but to align the project with existing initiatives wherever possible in a creative and complementary way.  These groups could be churches, business, organizations, neighborhoods, etc… These are the folks we’ll hope to direct to the crowdfunding campaign.  To keep it simple, we’ll be trying for a few larger donations first by trying to bait the hook with some fun events.  Our hope is that the funders will also be participants, and their reward will include use of the press to invite their friends and community to strengthen local relationships. We’re already compiling lists of individuals, organizations, churches, resources, etc. who may be sympathetic with and interested in supporting or collaborating with the project.  This task will just be a matter of going through the lists and reaching out to gauge interest and solicit support. This may be the only thing we manage to push forward… and that would be ok.  We’re in awe of the sheer abundance of fruit this year, and we doubt that much of it will get harvest without pulling our resources.  Helping enable a gleaning program is a direct step to reducing food waste.  Creating a map will also leave us with a unique resource and opportunity to appreciate the productivity of our urban landscape. We’ll need to verify this, but the goal will be to get a highly visible presence early on to try and garner community support.  We won’t necessarily need tons of help to pull of the tasks themselves, but if we want to inspire enough confidence in folks for them to open up their fruit trees to gleaners or open up their wallets to help buy a press, we need to stick our necks out a bit and convey some enthusiasm for what we’re doing. How can we say it more directly… we want your help.  We’re launching this plan without the time or resources to pull it off ourselves.  As tempting as it was to let this justify putting it off, we decided to follow the current spirit of “just doing stuff” and go forward anyways to see what happens.  We also happen to think it’ll be a fun and rewarding opportunity to volunteer… This is one of the most intriguing aspects of the project for us so far… we kicked around a few ideas of how to raise money to cover costs… roughly $900 for a new press… and in the end decided that it would be easiest to appeal directly to a few potential funders who might enjoy hosting cider parties, than it would be to recover the costs by charging for use.  As schedule allows, we’ll hope to offer a few free community events as well… but a more accessible program may have to wait until next year. If the kickoff meeting was about rolling up our sleeves and getting started, this’ll be rolling up our sleeves to prep apples and make cider.  If we’re going to do this, we insist on having fun.  And if we want to inspire others to participate, we need to make sure everyone knows just how much fun there is to be had.  This whole idea started while we were pressing apples, so a larger effort will surely feed the flames of whatever happens next.  We’ll make sure to make a party out of it, and hopefully recruit some new folks in the process. This is step one… we’ll bring together anyone we can who might be interested to pitch these ideas and gather feedback.  We’ll also be shamelessly asking for anyone with even the slightest bit of interest to identify something they might like to help with and jump on board. This is it… at least it’s a start, and something we certainly hope is able to evolve and reorganize around the whims and energy of the folks who plug in.  Perhaps the most important thing to point out is that as ambitious as it may seem, we conceived of it such that the paths can proceed independently of each other for the most part… we can focus on what’s working and walk away from whatever fails to gain momentum. We’ll be setting up a simple website soon… in the hope that it’ll allow folks to get a good sense of how far (or short) we’re really hoping to go with this and where they might like to jump in.  It’ll be rough but serviceable… if you want to help refine it so its in better shape for next year, we’d welcome your help…