I don't know how much fruit and other edibles grow around the National Capital Area but can we get a local group going to collect and share urban bounty?
IT’S FREE Asiya Wadud, fruit foraging in Oakland, Calif.
By KIM SEVERSON
Published: New York Times
, June 9, 2009
THE loquats were ripe and just begging to be picked.
But there was a problem. Although the tree was planted on private property, the loaded branches hung over the street.
Did that make the fruit public property?
In the end, with no one around to ask, Asiya Wadud decided the answer was yes. So she added them to a bag already heavy with Meyer lemons picked (with permission) from a yard a few blocks away. Then she headed off to check on some plum trees.
It was just another day of urban fruit foraging for Ms. Wadud, one of a growing number of people who looked around their cities, saw trees full of fruit and thought, “Delicious.”
A year and a half ago, Ms. Wadud, who studied urban sociology in college and bartended at Chez Panisse, began organizing a little neighborhood fruit exchange called Forage Oakland. She did it as much to build neighborhood relations as to get her hands on some of that fruit.
It works simply. A woman with a yard full of lemon trees, say, can share her bounty in exchange for a paper bag full of someone else’s persimmons when they come into season. So far, 200 people have signed up.
All over the country, the underground fruit economy is growing. At new Web sites like neighborhoodfruit.com and veggietrader.com, fruit seekers can find public mulberry patches in Pennsylvania and neighbors willing to trade blackberries in Oklahoma.
In Royal Oak, Mich., a woman investigated how to start a fruit exchange modeled after Fallen Fruit (fallenfruit.org), an arts group that designs maps of accessible fruit growing in Los Angeles neighborhoods.
In Alaska, cooks used Facebook to find willing donors of backyard rhubarb, the first dessert crop that grows after the long winter. In Columbia, S.C., university students pulled spare peaches from orchards and donated them to a local food bank.
Supporters of this movement hold two basic principles. One, it’s a shame to let fruit go to waste. And two, neighborhood fruit tastes best when it’s free.
“There have always been people harvesting fallen fruit,” Ms. Wadud said, “but there’s a whole new counterculture about gathering and eating public fruit. This tremendous resource is growing everywhere if people just start looking around.”