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My local green group newsletter included the following notice:

Mulberries!
There's a huge white mulberry tree in my front yard. During mulberry season, which runs for about a month between June 20-July 20th, it drops enough mulberries to make several jars of jam, preserves, chutney, or wine a day. Mulberries can also be dried, like raisins, and dried white mulberries are a Middle Eastern dried fruit staple.

The thing is--I can't keep up with picking up after it, and it is driving my neighbors crazy. As I'm planning to be away for a year, and not able to pick up after it at all, I'm thinking I'll need to cut it down unless I can find people who want to harvest and use the fruits.

With all the talk about "local food" and "permablitzing," I thought I should offer Greenport members the option of adopting the tree, using its fruit and cleaning up after it.

I also have several other mulberry trees on my property, but it's the huge one in the front yard I'm trying to find a solution for at the present time.”

If anyone is interested, please contact Monica at ....

It sent me on a quest to find out about mulberry harvesting and led me to a group of urban fruit harvesters in Canada and the US.

First I found a link to Foodmapper on harvesting fruit in the the city and an adventure in mulberry harvesting using upside down umbrellas in NYC.

Following that track, I learned about groups in Portland, OR, Toronto, LA, and the SF Bay area, all organized to harvest public fruit trees:
http://urbanedibles.org/ - Portland, OR
http://www.notfarfromthetree.org/ - Toronto
http://www.fallenfruit.org/... - LA
http://www.villageharvest.org/... - SF Bay Area
http://www.villageharvest.org/... - Village Harvest directory of other programs

Back in the late 1970s, I had read about a program in Santa Cruz, CA to plant public access food-bearing perennials, trees and bushes.  I distributed the idea to my friends in the local agriculture movement and then State Representative Mel King made the idea into an actual funded state program, the Fruition Program.  For a couple of years, the MA Department of Food and Agriculture paid for sapling fruit and nut trees, grape vines, raspberry canes, and blueberry bushes among other things.  It held workshops on pruning and grafting and ended with some funds still unexpended when the Dept of Food and Ag couldn't devote staff time to the program.  Years later, I heard Mel King say it was the one piece of legislation he was proudest of.  Some of those plantings are still producing nearly thirty years down the road.

Susan McLucas, who has since worked on stopping female genital mutilation in Mali, and I did a plan for public plantings throughout Cambridge parks and greenspaces to support the Fruition Program and presented it to the then head of the Conservation Commission.  We mapped places that would support raspberries or grapes, fruit and nut trees.  She looked at our work in wonder and exclaimed, "You're serious!"  Unfortunately, she wasn't.

These days, we may not have a Fruition Program or organized urban fruit harvesters but we do have the Boston Area Gleaners collecting abandoned food from picked over fields and Earthworks planting urban orchards.

Me?  I'm eating raspberries and currants from my community garden after a month of strawberries and picking up drops from Esther's peach trees on one corner across the street and from the plum tree on the other corner of the cross street.  I hope the apricot tree a quarter of a mile away bears next year but sure took advantage of the apricot blossoms and their beautiful scent this past April.

More on this theme:
Raspberry Gobble
City Sunday Garden Story

Originally posted to gmoke on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 05:28 PM PDT.

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More urban orchards and fruit harvesting groups?

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