This Fruit Is Not Forbidden
Yesterday I checked on the white mulberry tree three blocks away from me that last year yielded loads of free fruit. Sure enough, there were lots of ripe berries waiting for me. I started collecting them, mildly nervous that the man watching me from the front steps of the nearest building might challenge what I was doing. Instead, he walked over and held down the branches for me so that I could get at the harder to reach fruit. This is David next to a branch of the white mulberry tree:
While I picked mulberries and David held down the branches for me, he told me how glad he was to see someone else picking the fruit.
“I mean, I eat it but the owners of the building just bitch about it [the fruit] dirtying the sidewalk. Where I come from, everyone has fruit trees in the front yard. Here, there are lots of fruit trees in the city but no-one eats the fruit. It’s crazy!”
I completely agree. Many of the front yard and park trees in cities were deliberately planted with the expectation that citizens would take advantage of the harvest (there’s a reason Mulberry Street in Manhattan is called Mulberry Street). Over time, people either forgot that the fruit was edible or trusted supermarkets more than their own ability to correctly identify the fruit their grandparents ate.
There is an interesting group devoted to collecting fruit in urban areas, Fallen Fruit.
There are trees near you offering free food, originally intended to provide exactly that food, being ignored. If there is a tree near you bearing fruit and you want to know whether or not it is edible (the first rule of foraging is “if in doubt, throw it out!”), email me a photo. There may be a free, local, delicious windfall in your future.
On a different note, here is an event I’m speaking at later this month:
June 29th – Green Edge Supper Club:
Urban Forager and Committed Locavore, Leda Meredith
$5 pay via our website, or $8 at the door
Leda Meredith, educator, activist and savvy local food expert, will be inspiring us with her experience of “The 250” (she has been subsisting on a diet sourced from within a 250-mile radius of Park Slope, Brooklyn since August 2007), educating us on how we can do it too and sharing from her new book, Botany, Ballet and Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes.
Leda will also be leading Green Edgers on an urban foraging tour on July 19th!
For time, location details and to pre-pay at the discounted rate, please visit the Green Edge website.