A RYEDALE environmental group is hoping to turn this year’s bumper apple crop into funds for local charities and community groups.

Kirkby Fruit Pickers (KFP) is a volunteer-led project which aims to clear away local people’s apples, leaving some of the best fruit behind for the owner or else offering some pasteurised apple juice in exchange.

The project was set up last year by Kirkbymoorside Environment Group with the aim of making good use of fruit that would otherwise go to waste, helping out householders and benefiting the local community at the same time.

People can either pick and take their own excess apples to the project in Kirkbymoorside, or – if the tree is in the Kirkbymoorside area – KFP volunteers can come and do the picking by arrangement with the householder. Other excess fruit, such as damsons, can also be picked and a proportion of the fruit left for the owner.

The ‘rescued’ fruit is turned into pasteurised juice, preserves, cakes and cordials by volunteers from KFP or from other community groups and charities who can sell the produce for fundraising. No-one involved in KFP gains financially.

After a successful first season, members are hoping to expand this year, thanks to the good harvest and the acquisition of more efficient juicing equipment purchased with grant money obtained from Kirkbymoorside Town Council and fthe Kirkby Foundation.

Erica Rose, of KFP, said they would like to hear from anyone locally who has too much fruit, and also from anyone who would like to join in as a volunteer picker.

“It really is a win-win situation all round,” she said.

“Most people who have trees are delighted to think that their good fruit will not be wasted, volunteer pickers enjoy a really rewarding activity, and then there is the local fundraising aspect that benefits the community too.

“We hope that we can really grow the project this year, and we’d love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved.”

For more information go online at www.kms-environmentgroup.org.uk or phone Erica Rose on 07791 539552.