2021 the Year of Fruit and Vegetables

Autumn has arrived, and with it Harvest Festival and a traditional time for the Island to celebrate all the wonderful produce it has to offer.

The Island has seen a rapid increase in the number of Vegetarians and Vegans, with several specially created eateries and caterers appearing to help with demand. We are fortunate to be surrounded by countryside, being able to see where our produce comes from, and able to choose to buy locally.

The Island hosts two large agricultural fairs, The Royal and the Southern. In addition, there are local Farmers Markets around the Island, throughout the year. The Food and Drinks Festival showcases Manx produce. Those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint have a large variety of local resources to choose from and are often growing their own.

The UN General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The purpose is to highlight the vital role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition and food security, as well as urging efforts to improve sustainable production and reduce waste.

The world’s main producing region of both fruit and vegetables, by a long way, is East Asia, followed by South Asia. Family farmers, who are often (but not always) small-scale producers, account for 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms, as well as a large share of fruit and vegetables. Small-scale family farms are often more diverse than larger farms, with a mix of staple crops, fruit, vegetables, other crops, and livestock. Diversity also means ecological balance, with crop residues used to feed livestock and manure used to fertilize crops.

The diverse range and characteristics of fresh fruit and vegetables and their inherently perishable nature warrants specific attention to their conditions of production, agronomic management, pest and disease control, harvesting techniques and postharvest handling systems. Fruit and vegetable production tends to be labour- and skill-intensive. Vegetables (most of which are annual crops) must be sown, transplanted, weeded, managed for pests and diseases, and harvested.

Fruit and vegetables keep us healthy and add variety, taste and texture to our diets. Even if you eat rice or bread every day, you probably vary the types of fruit and vegetables you consume. A monotonous diet is not only unhealthy for humans: it is also unhealthy for the planet because it can result in monocultures and a loss of biodiversity.

The United Nations Association Isle of Man is sharing the message of the importance of fruit and vegetables by working with local organisations to support this UN initiative. On the Island we know the concept of farm to table. We know how important fresh fruit and vegetables are to all of us.

From the moot to the mushroom, UNAIOM intend to go into all 33 primary schools and showcase local produce available in shops and show what we can grow in our gardens.

Working with local producer, Robinsons, UNAIOM run classroom based activities in schools with Try Me, Taste Me, Smell Me to encourage children to taste different fruit and vegetables. The second part of the session is using flash cards to educate the students as to which fruit and vegetables grow on the Isle of Man with our climate.

Any school that would like to get involved are asked to contact:  georgia@robinsons.im or jenniet@stayfree.co.uk