Wanaka Apple Drive



Despite the promise, on the morning of the Wanaka apple drive there was torrential rain, and when we arrived at Rippon we were met with the semi-functional anarchy of nearly a hundred people attempting to find a job amongst a tonne of apples in varying degrees of health. To begin with the women stuffing apples into a wood mulcher out in the rain (a step in making apple juice) were grimacing in their rain coats, and we weren’t much more thrilled, washing apples in buckets of cold dirty water.


Soon, however, the rain cleared, fairy tale-like, to show the views of Lake Wanaka and Ruby Island, and the whole place was filled with the sweet and tangy scent of chutney. I found a better job – chopping apples into chunks and removing the bits you don’t want – and things were improving dramatically. Apples were being crushed for juice, multiple vats of chutney were being boiled and stirred on the industrial stove, and jars were being labelled.


In the afternoon, when the thousands of apples had been cooked or mulched into 220 jars of chutney and 200 litres of juice, some local food producers had stalls selling jams, handmade chocolates, beer from Ground Up Brewing, and more chutney, just to continue the theme.

Perhaps my favourite stall at the Wanaka autumn apple drive was the smoothie bicycle, run for the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. This involved brown bananas and soft stone fruit being made into smoothies, the energy for the blender being provided by riding a bicycle. That’s pro-social on three different levels, I realised with child-like excitement – exercise, no electricity, and using fruit that people otherwise might not eat. Plus the bicycle had a soft toy unicorn head on the front; that might count for a fourth pro-social element.

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Some knowledgeable people then provided workshops; Ground Up Brewing explained home brew (the chemistry of which slightly went over my head), the technique of sourdough making and tree-pruning were explained, and a lesson on wild herbs was given.  



We all went away happy and loaded with chutney and juice, and the apples were saved from a sad fate. All in all, a good day for humans and produce both.