Fallen Fruit

by Scott Smith

Fallen Fruit is an interesting project I discovered through Celeste’s blog. This group has been working on their project in LA since at least sometime in 2005 but I’m not sure about that part of it. I can’t really explain their premise any better than their manifesto does:

A SPECTER is haunting our cities: barren landscapes with foliage and flowers, but nothing to eat. Fruit can grow almost anywhere, and can be harvested by everyone. Our cities are planted with frivolous and ugly landscaping, sad shrubs and neglected trees, whereas they should burst with ripe produce. Great sums of money are spent on young trees, water and maintenance. While these trees are beautiful, they could be healthy, fruitful and beautiful.

WE ASK all of you to petition your cities and towns to support community gardens and only plant fruit-bearing trees in public parks. Let our streets be lined with apples and pears! Demand that all parking lots be landscaped with fruit trees which provide shade, clean the air and feed the people.

FALLEN FRUIT is a mapping and manifesto for all the free fruit we can find. Every day there is food somewhere going to waste. We encourage you to find it, tend and harvest it. If you own property, plant food on your perimeter. Share with the world and the world will share with you. Barter, don’t buy! Give things away! You have nothing to lose but your hunger!

While I admire their intentions, I do find some of what they want questionable. For instance, I don’t think that all trees in cities should be trees that bear fruit that humans want to eat. Oak trees feed a great many animals (there are still squirrels in cities, right?). Maple trees give us sap for syrup making. And, really, there is nothing inherently wrong with a tree simply being beautiful or providing shade without also providing fruit. I think monoculture is a mistake even in the urban landscape, but my view of this project may be skewed by looking at it from where I live.

Celeste mentions the waste of not harvesting a tree (Fallen Fruit appears to believe that people should harvest any fruit they see going to waste, even on private property, but again, I may be reading into what they are saying). I mentioned that we have several apple trees at the back of our property that are completely overgrown and really beyond bringing back into shape. Now, if I were really determined I could probably figure out how to harvest the apples from those trees, however I don’t. I leave them to become windfalls and the deer come along and happily gobble them up and steer clear of the beds that I plant which I’d really rather not share with those lovely browsers (which many people will tell you is the best way to deter animals from your garden – plant something they like better somewhere else). To me, those apples are not going to waste simply because they are not feeding people. But again, I don’t think that there are a lot of deer wandering in LA.

The finer points of whether or not I want to share my sad apple trees with someone who thinks that they are going to waste may be getting in the way of the fact that this is really right up the alley of what I’ve been interested in lately (at least interested in blogging about). This whole idea of planting and harvesting food from “nontraditional” spaces (really what’s more traditional than growing your own food no matter where you live?). I have e-mailed the folks at Fallen Fruit hoping to get some additional information and/or dialog on how they see their Public Fruit Park working out in the long term.

Cherry Trees in Full Bloom
Hmmm. What do you suppose happens to all of those cherries in Washington D.C.?