A group of volunteers that got together in March 2020 after realising the demand for fresh food within the local food banks was growing daily. They started to grow from seed fresh fruit and vegetables to supply the local food banks and schools projects within Reading and Wokingham area and want to expand to other areas across the UK.
Freely Fruity began life in March 2020 after three friends (Ryan, James and Matt) decided to follow their dream of making fruit freely available to everyone.
Their first plan was to plant fruit trees and bushes into local communities and have these trees provide food to people and wildlife alike. There was a secondary benefit, beyond sustenance, the trees would directly reduce carbon emissions and lower the carbon footprint of shop-bought fruit.
However, the charity had only just put down roots when the Covid-19 pandemic began. They became aware of the community’s increasing dependency on local food banks but there seemed to be a lack of fresh, healthy produce available to people who really needed it. They wanted to do something about that, so they changed their plans to include a community allotment and started planting produce for the food banks. By May 2020 they’d managed to cultivate over 400 strawberry plants, 600 tomato plants, 80 raspberry canes and many other fruits and vegetables!
They were able to donate fresh, organic produce to the local food banks in the Berkshire area. Over the next few months, they supplied three food banks a week, with hundreds of kilos of free produce. Currently they are feeding 70-90 people per week and demand is growing weekly for what they are doing.
They have done everything to date in their own time with lots of help from friends and family but now need to double what they produce so they can feed more families in 2021.
While they've had great success in their local area with the growing of fruit and vegetables for the local community, their bigger ambition is to make fruit freely available all over the UK. Not only to provide a free food source to people but also to have a positive impact on the environment by the planting of more trees and a reduction in the food miles as a result of importing fruits and vegetables.
They clearly have a lot of energy and determination to make this a success and they gave me the confidence that they can make it happen. They want to partner with schools, local councils, property developers, companies and other organisations to encourage the planting of fruit trees, vegetables etc. to change our approach to how we source fruit in the UK.