Monday, August 8, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not: Urban Foraging

My friend, Melissa, has a fig tree behind her home that is bursting with ripened fruit for the taking. Melissa lives in a series of a quadraplexes, and the tree is in back of the property. She had so many of the figs that she was ready to pop, and since none of her neighbors seemed to be enjoying the fruit, she invited me to pick as much as I wanted. I gathered a basketful of delicious figs from a huge tree that had more than I could ever need, want, or reach. I was so happy that I could take some so that they wouldn't all go to waste. Now to figure out what to make with all these figs... I'm thinking some canning and drying might be in order.

If you'd like to fill up your own basket of city fruit, here are a few rules of urban foraging, taken from The Urban Homestead, by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen.

"It goes against homestead principles to let food go to waste - whether it be on your land or someone else's... The law states that any fruit growing in a parkway strip, or branches hanging over a sidewalk or alley is in public space and therefore fair game for you to pick. Of course it is better to ask permission when you can, and of course we don't need to tell you not to break branches, climb on fences, or otherwise behave like a hooligan when you are picking fruit.

"If you spot an overloaded tree in someone's yard on your wanderings, and if your surreptitious sampling proves it to be tasty, inquire with the owner and see if they'll let you harvest the whole thing. Odds are they will be grateful to you if you would relieve them of this burden, and will just tell you to take what you want."

I'd love to hear about any successful urban foraging adventures you've had. Please share your story in a comment. And happy picking!

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