Many of the best ideas are borne out of adversity, so when recruiter Max MacGillivray spilt a toilet cartridge full of effluence over himself he should have known there was a silver lining.
It was three years ago that MacGillivray had his lightbulb moment, standing there on a camping holiday on the Isle of Mull smelling less than of roses and trying to think of something positive to take his mind off it. It was then that the idea of The Great Fruit Adventure hit him as a way of educating kids about where fruit and veg comes from and enthusing them in the farm-to-plate journey.
MacGillivray and dairy specialist Gareth Jones will set off from London’s New Spitalfields Market on a pair of BMW F800 GS motorbikes on Tuesday 8 November, kicking off a four-month journey that will take them from Spain, Morocco and Senegal via Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and finally South Africa.
The duo will be chronicling the story of their journey and the characters they meet via video, social media and blogs, and will be making all the materials freely available to schools to use in educating kids in food and farming when they return. They hope to visit as many as 30-40 farms on their epic journey.
“The whole reason for this is promoting fresh produce to kids and families,” says MacGillivray. “The 5 A Day campaign doesn’t work. We are trying to do something different to educate kids about fresh produce and trying to stop childhood obesity. We also want to educate the children we meet in Africa about farming efficiently for the future.”
MacGillivray has already visited 10 local schools in the Bury St Edmunds area and plans to see a further 15 before taking to the road. More are on the cards upon their return.
The ambitious plan has caught the imagination of the industry, and has already received some high-profile backing from the likes of the Waitrose Foundation and Fairtrade Foundation. As well as the primary aim of engaging kids in healthy eating, the project also hopes to raise money for three nominated charities – Fairtrade, Marshal Papworth and African wildlife trust Tusk.
“Fresh produce is my lifelong passion and I’ve put my heart and soul into the industry, so I was dismayed to read thatsix out of 10 British children had no idea where the fruit and veg they eat comes from. Something had to be done,” says MacGillivray. “I want to tell the story of the fantastic places where our fruit and veg is grown.”
From citrus in Spain to sweetcorn in Senegal, prepared fruit in Ghana, flowers in Ethiopia and Mozambique and exotic veg in Kenya, it promises to be a hell of a ride.
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