Autumn is here and we are once again surrounded by products made with pumpkin flavoring. Apple orchards have festivals celebrating their pick-your-own hours. Here in Colorado we are buying up Palisade peaches by the trunk load and eating them like apples, rejoicing in the juice that runs down our chins.
But did you know there is a way to gather tasty fruits without paying anyone? All over the world there is produce that exists on public lands or on private property where the home owner welcomes harvesters. A popular name for this is urban edibles.
On the Urban Edibles website you can find all kinds of information, including the rules of etiquette for collecting your free bounty. It’s important you pay attention to their suggestions about asking appropriate permission, watching for nearby chemical usage, and playing a part in pruning plants to keep them healthier.
Although the Urban Edibles website is mainly about produce in the Portland area, another website, started by a bunch of guys in Colorado last year, will tell you where you can find free stuff hanging on bushes, plants, and trees, all over the world. Their website is called Falling Fruit.
On their website you’ll find a map with more than 612,000 harvest sites. Finding what’s free in your local area is just a few clicks away. I found this map fascinating in another way also. Seeing what kinds of plants and fruits grow in other countries was an interesting side track. I wasn’t familiar with many of the listed edibles and learned about many of them with a bit more Googling. Anyone with school-aged kids could make a fun afternoon of discovering new fruits without even leaving the house.
Their map is interactive (you can plot your own free fruit finds) and they hope to attract enough visitors that they can continually be updating locations that are in harvest season.
The benefit of urban foraging is multi-faceted. City sidewalks are no longer stained by falling fruit. Produce that is harvested respectfully makes the plant healthier, producing more food for next year. Countless bushels of fresh fruits and other comestibles (776 types) including fruits, nuts, and spices no longer fall to the ground and rot.
Many urban edibles are in season this time of year. If you’d like a fun activity to do with the kiddos, map out locations nearby and go on a treasure hunt. The valuables you’ll find might be worth more than any pot of gold.