Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hunting and Gathering day

Yesterday was a hunter gather day. I went hunting for fruit, and this is the stash that a collected. Across the top (from L to R) red apples, granny smith apples, more granny smith apples, and two different types of grape vine cutters (in the white/yellow bag), a rose for my wife and banana’s.

Second step is oranges, red apples, persimmons, some fejioa and apple juice and lastly rose hips.

Apart from the obvious eating of the fruit – last time I got apples I ate all the granny smiths from the big blue bucket single handled as they are my favorite late season apple, as the stay nice and crisp the longest. I will process them in the following ways:

Rose hip wine. Tried this last year, but I didn’t cut of the black bits of the rose hips so the wine had a bitterness that is slowly disappearing as it ages.
Persimmons will go into wine, juice and fruit stews.
Grape cuttings will go into pots, and if/when they take they will be planted with the other grape variety on the very sandy soil out the back.
Red apples – kids favorite, will go in vege juices to make them more palatable. Will also use these apples with rhubarb from our neighbors, and orange tamarilios from our tree. Sweet apples balance the tartness of the rhubarb/tamarilios.
Might use so of the apples to make cider if any remaining
Banana’s – apparently in NZ you can pick them at this stage, wrap them in plastic wrap to keep in the ripening gases and place in a warm spot. Upon opening one of the banana’s they seem to be high in seed level, so I will be interested in how this goes. I am after a banana palm that will fruit well in NZ.

2-3 hours of time
$10-15 of petrol
$5 for oranges
$4.60 for the 2 liter juice (stopped into the manufacturers shop)
Interesting enough it is the time that is the most valuable commodity. Most people don't have/make the time for such things. I wouldn't mid this if most people purchased large quantities of fruits to eat at home. I haven't seen to many 10 or 20kg bags of produce for sale at the supermarket/fruit store.

I made a couple of observations about this hunter gather mission.
1) That NZ’ers are very generous. The only fruit I had to purchase was only $1 a kg. The rest came from three different places and the people were happy to let me collect for free.
2) That I don’t remember names well when I am nervous. In meeting new people to ask them for fruit I am anxious to make sure I get my story right (my words seem to be harder to communicate when I am nervous) that I don’t have the mental processing to catch the name. I need to remember to relax and “lock in” peoples names.
3) Much fruit goes to waste. Only the best fruit gets picked for export or sale. It is clearly no cost effective to gather in the “blemished” fruit. This really concerns me. I don’t like waste. Makes you wonder if there would be a business in stripping the late season fruit and turning into juice or cider or persimmon fermented drink.
4) That there is no new orchards coming on line. All the orchards I visited were run with by people who were rapidly approaching “retirement”. I know of no new orchards going in. A lot of the orchards I remember as a kid have been ripped out and replaced with pasture or maize. I suspect that the land value is such that orcharding does not make high enough returns to service the debt of the land purchase. Hence they are going into dairying or sub division, not into orchards. This concerns me as purchase of local produce is something that I think is important
5) That people like to be listened to. In talking to the owners of the orchard most enjoyed being listened to and having questions asked about their orchard. Maybe this is why they were so generous?
6) Gleaning. This was the name given in biblical times to people picking up the "excess" fruit. The fields / orchards where to only be harvested once. The remaining fruit or grain was left to the poor to pick and use. The of course was before any government social welfare. However I can now understand how it would work.

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