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Topsham School's Juicing Project

When sustainability became an important part of school improvement at The Topsham School in Devon, orchards, apples and apple juicing came to centre stage.

The seed of the idea started when Justin Vernon, a class teacher and sustainability co-ordinator at the school, ran a project with his Year 2 class (6-7 year olds) about harvesting, using local produce and food miles. He decided that it was a great way of engaging the children on with these topics was to collect, examine and juice local apples.

The project was so successful and popular that it was adopted as a whole school initiative the following year. The school won some money through their gardening activities and were able to buy a Vigo 9 litre Cast Iron Press , Economy Crusher and Pasteuriser. The children were encouraged to bring apples from home and helped to produce fliers to encourage other local tree owners to support the school by donating apples to be pressed. Learning about food miles, orchard history, science and literacy were all linked in with the harvesting of local apples and the press was used to make tasty juice. The school quickly realised it had access to more apples and juice than it needed purely for learning; this presented a wonderful opportunity to sell some locally made apple juice so they also bought a 12 litre Cast Iron Press and Classic Crusher A. The children then worked on other activities such as designing posters and labels for the juice and attending a local Slow Food Market.

Enthusiasm about local produce and its potential uses continues to be an important part of school life. The children have attended local Apple Days where they have demonstrated their juicing skills and 2012's Autumn Fayre featured Pomona and apple juicing. The school’s Green Team has helped to establish a community orchard at a local organic farm and a shared orchard with other local schools. It is hoped that both of these will provide a plentiful source of fruit in the years to come.

Asked whether the school plans to continue with this work, Mr Vernon replied ‘Yes! This has been a great project for engaging the children and the local community. In many ways this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are looking at the possibility of this working as a social enterprise project and of getting the children involved in orchard maintenance and using our apples in many different ways. Juicing has been a fantastic way into sustainability for our school and I hope will be for years to come’.

Starting up your own group

For handy tips on setting up your own 'fruit group' or Apple Day, including the juicing equipment you might need, see our Community Juicing pages.

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