Of all the benefits of urban trees that we discuss on this blog, there’s one that we haven’t addressed: food production!
There’s a good reason why most streets aren’t lined with fruit trees (and in fact, if there are fruit trees on your street, likely they are varieties that have specifically been bred not to produce fruit). As soon as fruit is no longer attached to the tree, it becomes a major hassle and liability for homeowners and cities to contend with. Despite this, some trees on public land still bear completely edible, delicious fruit, and at least one group is determined to find ways for people to enjoy it.
Neighborhood Fruit’s mission is to enable the food from backyard- and public-fruit trees to be shared between neighbors rather than going to waste. You can register on the website either to make fruit from your own tree available, or to search for fruit in your neighborhood (or both).
Neighborhood Fruit was started in San Francisco, but they cover the entire United States. In my neighborhood alone their map reveals dozens of fruit-bearing trees just on public land. They also have an iPhone app which, let’s face it, is probably a critical tool when you’re going out and foraging on street corners across your city.
Does anyone out there have experience with Neighborhood Fruit or a system like it? How does it work?