Loughborough University and artist Anne-Marie Culhane have come together for the seventh year to bring the Fruit Routes project to campus.
The two-day event is bursting with activities to encourage students, staff and members of the community to participate and learn more about nature.
Taking place from 1-2 May, the theme of this year’s Fruit Routes will be May Day, a traditional acknowledgement to celebrate the peak of spring and the beginning of summer.
This will be commemorated by hosting a picnic in the orchard, inspired by Ohanami ‘flower viewing’ festivals in Japan. Loughborough Students’ Union’s Japanese Society will be in attendance cooking traditional Japanese dishes for guests to try.
Loughborough group Charnwood Chai will bring people from across the community together at the Fruit Routes event to have conversations over traditional and foraged teas.
There will also be Fruit Routes walks taking place on both days at lunchtime, a chance to meet the bees at the campus apiary and learn more about moths with The Moth Hotel – the biggest moth trap in Europe loaned by the National Forest’s Timber Festival.
Poet Paul Conneally will be creating a May Day May Day morse code transmission to send out into the world with amateur radio enthusiast Tom Dixon, and artist John Newling will read from his book Letters to Nature, which he wrote over 81 consecutive days in 2018.
A number of academics will also be taking part in the Fruit Routes events.
There will be an orchard draw-in with Dr Marion Arnold – whether you have drawing experience or you are a complete beginner, all are welcome to join in. Basic materials will be supplied on the day, or guests are welcome to bring their own.
Dr Gillian Whitely from the School of Arts, English and Drama will be hosting a pamphlet-making workshop which will give attendees the opportunity to write about what they want to protect in the natural world.
PhD researcher and visual artist Daniel Fountain will be seeking the help of others to construct a site-specific Orchard Weaving, and Dr Matyas Gutai will be hosting a talk and workshop on how architecture can be inspired by wildlife and how buildings can create new spaces for biodiversity to thrive.
The Fruit Routes walk on 2 May will also be accompanied by biologist Professor Jane Hill from the University of York, who specialises in species adaption and climate change.
She will then lead a discussion about how species, in particular insects, respond to habitat destruction and climate warming, and what we can do to help wildlife to adapt.
Talking about the upcoming event, Anne-Marie Culhane said: “Being a campus university, Loughborough provides a rich and diverse natural habitat as well as a centre for world-class learning.
“The two are connected; we learn and study best when we are healthy in mind, body and spirit. Connecting with wildlife and spending time in green spaces has been proven to have a measurable impact on mental health and wellbeing.
“At the same time, we are learning just how catastrophic our impacts on the biodiversity and the more-than-human world have been. May Day May Day highlights these interconnections and our part in the natural world, and celebrates the diversity and importance of the natural world as our life-support system and the many challenges we face in adapting and responding to the impacts of the Anthropocene.”
Jo Shields, the University’s Sustainability Manager, added: “The team are really excited to be hosting such a packed and exciting programme of events this year. We are keen to encourage everyone to come along and join us for a cuppa and to take some time out from the office or study.
“The campus is bursting with life as we step into spring and it is a wonderful time of year to get outside and immerse yourself in nature. The campus has a lot to offer and we share it with many other inhabitants. This event is a great opportunity to come and learn a bit more about your environment and help us celebrate the season and the summer ahead.”
All of the activities are free to attend and will take place in the Barefoot Orchard (opposite Pilkington Library). Those who wish to attend the apiary are required to book in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Fruit Routes is an artist-led initiative created by Anne-Marie Culhane alongside the University’s Sustainability team.
It aims to develop the campus as an edible landscape, planting fruit trees, increasing foraging opportunities and sharing knowledge with the wider community through engaging events.
For more information about the upcoming event, including a full timetable, visit the Fruit Routes blog.