EDEN Project apples have been harvested, pressed, cooked and served to visitors as part of a programme aimed at supporting young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The programme, known as the Apple Academy, saw a small group of young people harvest an impressive haul of apples from Eden’s own orchard.

Included in the eclectic mix of local varieties harvested were Duke of Cornwall, Improved Keswick, Tregonna King, Pig’s Nose, Snell’s Glass, Pear and Golden Noble apples.

The participants then took part in a day-long demonstration of apple pressing which saw them actively engage with visitors to Eden. The juice was offered to customers observing the process to sample.

The harvested apples were then presented to Eden’s Head Chef Mike Greer, who worked with the group to prepare apple crumble and chutney at the attraction’s production kitchen.

Finally, the participants were able to see the fruits of the labour first-hand as their prepared food was served to Eden Project visitors.

The participants are enrolled on the COMPASS project, a wide-reaching partnership led by Cornwall Council, managed by CSW Group and part-funded by the European Social Fund. It aims to support 1,800 young people aged 15-24 to find their direction into education, employment or training throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Falmouth Packet: (From left) Kyle White and William Kenyon present harvested apples to Eden Head Chef, Mike Greer(From left) Kyle White and William Kenyon present harvested apples to Eden Head Chef, Mike Greer (Image: Eden Project)

Statistics released by the ONS earlier this year showed that the amount of people aged between 16 and 24 who are not in employment, education or training was up to 11.5% in the final quarter of 2022 and saw the biggest rise in this number in a decade, highlighting the crucial importance of initiatives such as these.

Eden has been a project delivery partner since 2017, working in partnership with the Real Ideas Organization, to support over 150 NEET young people living in Cornwall.

Mike Greer, Eden’s Head Chef, said: “The Apple Academy is just one example of the work going on at Eden, as we continue to help build relationships between people and aid them in gaining a wider understanding and connection to the natural world.

“Food is such a powerful medium to demonstrate what can be achieved when we come together and provides a tangible example of what can be accomplished individually and as a team. It has been great working alongside the group this week and to see their personalities shine through.”

David Aynsley, who is COMPASS Project Officer at Eden, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with this cohort of young people. The aim of these projects is to walk alongside the participants, give them a safe space to calm down their anxieties and support them on their journey.

“Groups such as these demonstrate a huge, untapped workforce of highly talented people, who just need a little help and guidance to help them fulfill their potential.

“I hope the group felt inspired by the Apple Academy programme and it has been a useful stepping stone on their professional journeys. I’m sure Eden visitors have been enjoying the delicious apple crumble too!”