As you drive down Princess Parkway towards Chorlton and Manchester, just as the M56 turns into a dual carriageway, you’ll see a strip of land between carriageway and slip road made of unkempt grass and spindly looking trees. If you get stuck in traffic there around late summer/early autumn, and look a little closer, you’ll see that two of those spindly looking trees are actually apple trees – right there on the motorway embankment. Perhaps they are the product of someone having thrown an apple core out of the window around 2003, who knows?
The point we’re making is that if you open your eyes and tune in to the environment around you, especially at this time of year when trees are more easily identifiable, you might be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of fruit growing in unusual suburban spaces. This has inspired community projects such as ‘Incredible Edibles’ http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/home – who ask for communal space to grow fruit and vegetables free for the public to harvest, and our latest discovery, ‘The Moss Cider Project’.
Dan Hasler, graphic designer and local project manager for Manchester-based charity ‘Action for Sustainable Living’ (AfSL) was inspired to start this project last year after a local Moss Side residents meeting. The local bus depot was due to be knocked down and they had a vision of what should replace it. Dan imagined a lot more green space amongst the housing – including allotments, gardens and orchards.
The scheme has inspired residents to have a go at growing their own fruit and vegetables and just one year on they are inviting everyone to ‘Open Yardens’ on Sunday 14th August because, as they suggest on their flyer, ‘you’ll be amazed and inspired by what can be grown in a small space.’
But, let’s get back to The Moss Cider Project – a bottle of which shall be working its magic in the main course of rabbit pie at our second supper club. Last year on September 25th, Dan and several locals, went around Moss Side and surrounding areas within the M60 scrumping for apples. After procuring a cider press with financial help from AfSL, they managed to squeeze 40 litres of juice and turned it into home brew whilst the leftover pulp was given to local allotments for composting. But how did they come up with a name for the local brew? Cider made in Moss Side….Moss Cider!
Next month it’ll be time for the second Moss Cider mash up, and this time they’re aiming to sell the 2012 vintage at local Christmas markets with profits being used to fund local projects. They also hold regular samplings and events such as cheese and cider tastings. For more information and to keep up with events, follow them on twitter @Mosscider or subscribe to their newsletter. http://www.themossciderproject.org/
They are currently looking for a home for their new industrial apple press and are on the cusp of setting up (in their words) ‘some kind of social-enterprise/micro-brewery/apple-tree-planting/community interest company/apple co-op’. They are always on the look-out for more local apples (of any variety) to meet increasing demand and volunteers to help with the cider making process and to help spread the word. If you’d like to help, contact Dan on 07968 378 022 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, this year they are going to be producing small batches of ‘artisan cider’ so we shall be keeping a very close eye on this worthy project and shall selflessly offer to, er, ‘sample’ their wares on your behalf (ahem)…
Thanks to Hannah Beatrice for the photographs. Click here to read her blog and see more photo’s from last years pressing http://www.hannahbeatrice.co.uk/2010/09/the-moss-cider-project/