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Sharing our harvest

Since getting involved with SHARE Oxford, it’s been a joy to learn more about all the groups in the county helping us to make the most of the fruit and veg available this time of year. It looks like some of us are in for a bumper year after a rainy summer too!

If you’ve got some excess you’re wondering what to do with, need a hand collecting it, or want to help others make sure every apple, pear and blackberry in the county goes to good use, I hope these are useful groups to take a look at.

Need the kit?

We have some handy bits and bobs for harvesting in the Library of Things. Our long-handled fruit picker was ideal for my plum tree which isn’t strong enough for a ladder yet. And we’ve got various buckets, wheelbarrows and festival wagons to help you transport your haul.

If you’re keen to try your hand at juicing, hopefully you’ll find our community apple press near you soon with a local CAG, or we have a smaller hand one and some electric juicers.

If you’re making jam or chutneys, a big saucepan or thermometer might help complete your kit.

And of course, if you’re pruning or preparing for autumn planting, we have plenty of gardening tools for those bigger jobs.

Need or want to lend a hand?

There are so many groups helping make sure no food goes to waste at harvest time. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few to check out!

Abundance Oxford aim to make sure no fruit in the city is wasted by helping pick excess and donate it to local community groups. Their facebook group has details of upcoming apple pressing and harvesting, or drop them a note at abundanceharvestsoxford@gmail.com if you have a tree you’d like help with.

Cherwell Collective have a “gleaning” WhatsApp group to get people together wherever fruit needs picking in their Kidlington area. Good Food Oxfordshire have written an interesting blog post on gleaning in discussion with the Earth Trust if you’re interested to find out more.

Finally, CAG Oxfordshire’s member’s listing and facebook group are good places to find your local groups who, if not already helping make the most of the harvest, will be happy to work with you.

…and of course, if you’d like to share details of any groups helping to maximise the harvest this year, do add details in the comments below or email them to hello@shareoxford.org!

Seeds to spare?

And a last little reminder, if you’ve got any seeds going spare, drop them down to Christine when we’re open, or leave them in an envelope at our South door letterbox with a note describing what they are, so we can share them in time for spring through our seed library!

seed library
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We asked you about clutter…

We’re always keen to do more to help you consume and waste less.

Back in September 2022, we asked about your experiences of sharing and in particular those things you bought that you wished you’d be able to borrow.

We’re really grateful to everyone who shared your thoughts. You’ve given us plenty of ideas to improve what we do now and add more services in the future.

For those who love a bit of analysis, have a read of the below!

We are keen to build up more case studies to show where our Library of Things or Repair Cafés have helped. If you’re happy to have a chat so we can write up a few words and share some pics of what you’ve been doing with Library equipment or what our repairers kept alive, please get in touch with Ben.

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Another SHARE Year!

We can’t quite believe we’ve got another year of sharing and repairing under our belts. June is our year end and it’s a good moment to pause and reflect on what the SHARE community has achieved in the last 12 months.

We will pull together a full impact report in the coming weeks, but as a brief taster, here are some key stats on loads of sharing and repairing!

We have been delighted to be involved in collaborations and projects with CAG, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Wood Recycling, Sustainable Wantage, Bicester Green, Ovada, Marston Community Gardening and others.

This is on top of lots of important work going on behind the scenes including becoming a charity, setting up to hire our first employee, refreshing our policies and procedures ready to grow, fundraising, crowdfunding and so much more.

We are cracking straight on into our 2023-4 year, aiming to expand our library and repairing offers, activate our community sharing group to help others delivering services in their communities and hopefully announce some exciting projects and partnerships soon!

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed and supported us so far. We appreciate it hugely.

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More Libraries of Things for Oxfordshire

We’re excited to share details of three new Libraries of Things now open, in Abingdon, Bicester and Wantage!

We’ve been part of project to support this pilot, working with CAG Oxfordshire, Oxford Wood Recycling, Sustainable Wantage and Bicester Green, supported by Oxfordshire County Council’s Waste and Recycling Team.

You’ll find links to all three new Libraries of Things on the CAG Oxfordshire’s Library of Things page

Keen to start your own library?

As part of the project, we’ve also written a resource guide, sharing our experience of setting up the Library of Things, and offering tips we hope will help anyone else starting on this journey. The resource guide and video are also on the CAG page.

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Free Book Swap

Adding to our popular seed library and plant swap, Christine has painted up a beautiful cabinet for a Book Swap, which you’ll find outside our window at Makespace. Come and contribute some favourite books or help yourself any time! And why not drop off a cutting whilst you’re there…

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Help us double the impact of our Library of Things

We’re fundraising!

We’re excited to announce our first crowdfunder project, to secure funds for our next 12 months and allow us to open three days a week, a key step towards doubling the impact of our Library of Things.

Since opening in 2019, our Library of Things has grown fast, with a stock of more than 600 Things, and made more than 3100 hires, each of which has helped someone do something they couldn’t, or saved them buying unnecessary stuff, and of course saved them money.

Our biggest opportunity to reach more people is to be more accessible by opening more days every week.

To ensure we offer a quality, safe experience for all our customers, we have a paid, trained member of staff managing all shifts, supported by volunteers. This crowdfunder will give us enough funds to take on an additional member of staff, to open three days a week, helping more people to share.

Our ambition is that, within a year, this extra day’s opening together with a big splash on getting the word out there will double the number of hires we make every month. If we succeed, the Library of Things should become financially self-sustaining, supported entirely by our wonderful community.

Thank you to all our supporters!

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Read our 2021-22 Impact Report

Curious to know what our top-hired item is? Keen to understand how we’re funded? Just love a pie chart?

Our latest impact report is now up online, with details of all the sharing and repairing we got up to from July 2021 to June 2022 as we enjoyed a strong bounce back after COVID.

Would you like to help us learn more?

We’re keen to hear from anyone interested to help us understand our impact better. Maybe you’d like to support us with a simple case study (what you did with things hired from the Library of Things or how our Repair Cafés helped you bring something back to life), analyse our customer feedback, or set up embodied carbon tracking?

Whatever sounds interesting, we’d love to hear your ideas! Give Ben a shout.

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New: plant swap!

Building on the popularity of the seed library, Christine has set up a plant swap!

If you’ve got any spare seedlings or small plants which will survive in this sheltered outdoor cabinet, please pot them up (we have some spares in the tray at the bottom of the cabinet, or show off your newspaper pot-making skills) and bring them down. A waterproof note saying what they are will also help people work out what they could use.

And of course, if you would like a plant for your home or garden, do come down and help yourself.

The plant swap lives outside our window at Makespace so come and help yourself or donate plants any time. Or stop by when the Library’s open and test Christine’s plant-identification skills before you grab one!

Christine is always keen to hear feedback and suggestions for this sort of sharing idea, so do reach out to her at libraryofthings@shareoxford.org with any thoughts or ideas.

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How to Set Up a Library of Things: Lessons from an Oxfordshire Pilot

We’re looking forward to joining CAG Oxfordshire and partners to share our reflections after launching three more Libraries of Things in Oxfordshire.

With support from CAG Oxfordshire and the County Council, Oxford Wood Recycling, Bicester Green and Sustainable Wantage have all launched Libraries of Things. We hope that sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned here at SHARE Oxford since we started in 2019 has helped them get further faster!

Join us on Thursday 4th May 12-1pm to hear how we got on, ask questions and hopefully come away ready to launch a Library of Things in your community!

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Back on the BBC!

If you’re missing our co-founder Maurice, you’ll love this slot on BBC iPlayer. The team at Morning Live got in touch keen to re-run the short film they made with us in 2020, with Maurice, Giles and some familiar Makespace faces talking about our Library of Things and Repair Cafés.

Whilst it’s still up online, check out about 36 minutes into the link below!

We’d love to produce more videos, showing people what we do at SHARE Oxford, what it’s like to volunteer as a Librarian or a Repairer for example. If you would like to help us create some, we’d love to hear from you!