So, I’m watching Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel and they were talking about the freegans in San Francisco and then I’m reading Chris’s piece and I have a question for us here in Nashville, home of food deserts and shitty produce in our grocery stores in poor neighborhoods and I had a thought–why don’t we have fruit trees and berries in our parks? Let people pick whatever apples, pears, blackberries, raspberries, etc. they can. I can see why you might not want people digging up and taking whatever vegetables they might find, but trees and bushes tend to take care of themselves after they get started. Hell, you could plant rosemary and sage, which seem to thrive by neglect.
And what about our prickly pears?
Sure, maybe you’d have to find some way to limit the city’s liability–warning people they pick at their own risk.
But we need vegetation in our parks. Why not have them serve double-duty?
Been making the same arguments for churches in the suburbs with their acres of lawns. Feed the hungry is, I believe, part of the mission?
Blackberries and prickly pears are noxious weeds here in Australia so it gave me quite a start to see someone saying, “Plant them!”
The only problem I can see is the problem that Brisbane (and anywhere north of that) has – it’s full of mango trees, which all come into season at the same time, and there’s so many that mechanised garbage trucks can’t pick up the bins of rotten fruit! I suppose a colder climate would help with that?
This is smack between a college several suburban neighborhoods and downtown Bellevue, WA, very close to where my parents live: http://www.bellevuewa.gov/blueberry_farm.htm
I’ve always thought it was cool and should be completely expanded. Although Seattle and surrounds have a huge P-Patch programs in which abandon lots in urban areas are turned into vegetable gardens that anyone can participate in. It’s worked very well there, but then they have a culture of hippie-ness and growing already.
Agreed with the other commenter on churches too. Like monasteries of old that produced all they needed and used their excess to feed those more in need. No reason churches now shouldn’t be using their acres to do the same.
However there’s been a lot of pressure from corporate agriculture giants to keep local farming down. We should be fighting back by planting the “Victory gardens” of a past era everywhere. In a climate like ours there’s no reason people should go hungry. We should have enough land to grow a lot of varieties of food and enough resources to teach people to can and preserve and conserve food so there’s always enough. But again government and corporate forming interfere. You can’t give him canned goods to the poor through any regular channels as it’s “unsafe.” The whole food and farming system in this country is really, really messed up.
Well, you could always do a little “guerrilla gardening” and just plant a few things yourself without telling anyone. I am actually reading the Urban Homesteading book and they describe how to make “seed bombs” and leave them in abandoned or neglected spaces.
I’m not sure and I’m too sleep-deprived at the moment to research, but aren’t there federal agriculture laws about a single plot that produces more than X amount of food needing to be regulated? I remember reading something about that’s why “community gardens” have to be broken up certain ways. But sure, a tree here and there or a bush shouldn’t be a problem, I wouldn’t think.
I had six seizures when I first opened the linked page.
Thank you for your helpful comment, Katherine.
Sorry, Chris. It’s nothing against you or the site at all. I used to know a blogger with whom there was a major falling out. That blogger had a blog with a name and banner art eerily similar to yours.
B. Knows the whole story as do other regular commenters.
My reference that I assumed they would understand was that when I first went there I thought B had linked to that blog for a split second.
I’ve had a hard week and didn’t think that I should’ve emailed instead of posting here so that those who didn’t have any reason to know what I meant wouldn’t be bothered and/or misconstrue what I was saying.
I’m terribly sorry.
I totally get that, Katherine. No worries.
Actually, it occurs to me that I might not have said anything at all if yesterday hadn’t been the first time I ever tried Ritalin. I – um – may have overreacted.
I hope your week gets better.
In one of the parks near us in West Philadelphia there were enormous Juneberry trees — there were definitely a lot of homeless people who slept in the park, and I hope they got some of the berries. Neighborhood folks in the know would pick them too. I seem to recall there being wild-food-in-the-parks tours, too.
I like the guerrilla gardening idea. A woman I knew (also in this W. Philly neighborhood), well into her 80s, would plant gorgeous flowers — cosmos, iris, whatever she had extra or needing to be divided — near bus stops and in otherwise trashed-out public spaces. It was wonderful. I don’t see why it couldn’t work with food crops — especially with native crops like Juneberry that don’t get diseases or need much tending.