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Thoughts from September 2006

the mighty bag

This post will appear on the blog while we are spending a day away from Fruit Towers, trying to think of some good stuff to make and do next year (the planning seems to start earlier every year).

So I just wanted to highlight one thing that won't be changing in 2007, and that's the fact that this bag will still be here.

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I think I bought this bag in 1999, which makes it seven years old, and also makes it as old as innocent. It's been all over the place - Africa, America, Kensal Green - and has never let me down. It has never broken, it's kept my stuff dry, it's carried computers and cash and cauliflowers from one place to the next, without complaint.

In the time I've owned it, I've had lots of pairs of socks and trainers come and go; I've got married, become a dad and lived in three or four different houses. And the bag has been there all the time, doing its job and minding its own business.

So in our planning session for 2007, I will be invoking the bag, as an example of well-made stuff that does its job and outlasts the competition. If we can come up with a few ideas that work as well and last as long as the bag, we'll be doing OK.

doing good things

innocent donates 10% of its profits each year to charity, primarily to the innocent foundation, which is a separate registered charity we set up a couple of years ago.

The foundation in turn supports a number of community based projects and NGOs. One such organisation is called Find Your Feet. We've been working with them for 2 years and have just agreed a further 3 years funding from this year. Good news.

Savitri manages all their work on the ground in India and she came over for a visit the other day. She gave us an update on how the money that you spend on our drinks is being put to good use.

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Savitri at Fruit Towers

One thing Find Your Feet are doing is funding an organisation called Pepus – working with 30 villages and over 550 disadvantaged people in Uttar Pradesh, helping them to set up stable livelihoods and increase crop yields. Hundreds more people are benefiting from Pepus’ work in the villages to promote education and raise awareness of health related issues.

An example of someone we've helped is Babata. She's from one of five families living in Ramnagar village who came together to take a joint loan from Pepus to buy an irrigation pump and pay for labour costs. The pump has now been installed and the families have been trained in maintaining the equipment.

Before, the men from the five families had to migrate in search of work. However, they now plan to stay in the village as they are able to farm all year round and earn a good income.

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Babata (left) and crops

Babata says “Before, we weren’t able to grow anything in this season because it was too dry. With our small plot of land, we could only grow one harvest of pulses a year. And that was it. Now, we can grow crops all year round and we have a variety – vegetables, paddy and fodder. We are now growing enough to sell part of our harvest to earn a profit.”

I don't know about you, but I feel genuinely good knowing that the money we make helps people's lives get a bit better. The fact that the men don't have to leave the village and so can stay at home with their families...that's a very very good thing.

Anyway, we'll carry on updating you with bits and pieces as we get them. In the mean time, large thanks to Savitri, pictured below with some of the villagers.

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Savitri and the villagers

look at them apples

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A quick post about some apples. I went up to see Henry last week - he grows a whole load of apples in Suffolk and we use them in our smoothies. His family have been growing apples in those parts since 1702, and will carry on for a fair while too. I got some video of Henry, so will edit it when I have a spare five minutes and post it here. In the mean time, some photos of Henry and his apples.

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one of the orchards

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a view into one of the old orchards

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Spartan apples - they'll be ripe pretty soon

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Henry standing next to the old stonewheel and trough, which used to be used to squash the apples

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new season apple juice - almost orange in colour, and pretty amazing in terms of its taste

true love

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We had a Flirting Tent at Fruitstock. Speed dating in the park. I went and spied on it for a bit and even got some video. Very funny watching people being coy.

Anyway, it seem like the Flirting Tent worked. A woman called Jenny mailed us - she's started a blog all about how she met a nice man there. And she's documenting their trials, tribulations and trembles. Like an online soap opera.

Needless to say, we are hooked.

This is how they met, and this is the blog, with many more posts about the burgeoning relationship. Please note, her blog contains some strong language. And kissing.

Romeo and Juliet by Frank Dicksee, 1884