Though Kris and I live just a few miles from downtown Portland, we’re fortunate to have three-fifths of an acre of land. This allows us to set aside some large spaces to grow fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, and vegetables.
Not all city-dwellers are so fortunate. In fact, millions of people don’t have access to a yard at all. For some of these, container gardening may be an option. Others might consider community gardens or farm subscriptions.
One Portland organization is championing another way for city-dwellers to find fresh produce: urban fruit gleaning. The Portland Fruit Tree Project was created to salvage the fruit that might otherwise go to waste along the city streets. From the site:
We have an abundance of fruit growing on trees in residential areas of Portland. But every year, thousands of pounds of this delicious organic food drops without being harvested, turning into a sticky mess in yards and sidewalks. Meanwhile, many people living on low incomes have limited access to fresh fruit, vital to a healthy diet.
The Portland Fruit Tree Project organizes people in the Portland community to gather fruit before it falls, and make this valuable resource available to those who need it most.
Here’s a short video that demonstrates urban fruit gleaning in action:
If you live in the city, watch for trees in your neighborhood with fruits or nuts that go unharvested. If you’re brave enough to knock on a stranger’s door, you might just find yourself with access to free food.
For more information about gleaning and about finding fresh produce in the city, check out the following resources:
- University of Maine: Organizing a community garden [PDF] and Food for your community: Gleaning and sharing [PDF]
- Sprouts in the Sidewalk is a blog about urban agriculture
- Fallen Fruit is a site devoted to mapping free fruit in urban areas (particularly Los Angeles)
- Planting Milkwood: How to make a feral fruit map — a guide to mapping the available fruit in your area
- Guerilla Gardening encourages readers to reclaim neglected public urban spaces by planting flowers and crops
- City Farmer is all about urban agriculture: community gardens, container gardening, and more
Last week, we noticed that the neighbor’s cherry tree wasn’t being picked. Because she thought it would be a shame for that fruit to go to waste, Kris knocked on the door to ask if she could help herself. The neighbor agreed. In fact, it turned into a sort of community gathering as families from several homes gathered to climb ladders and gather the fresh fruit.