May 2, 2011

Eat Street Trees!


Eat Street Trees! promotes the planting and eating of edible urban forests.  (The fruit of some trees can be drunken; for example, the green walnut is a primary ingredient in the Italian liquer nocino.)  This project was developed while eating the fruits (and nuts) of Berkeley's street trees.  We would like to see edible urban forests and one strategy to accomplish this goal is the Edible Pocket Woodland.  Here is some background.

Much of the discussion of urban agriculture focuses on annual crops or herbaceous perennials, the types of food grown in home gardens, community gardens, and sold at farmers markets. Fruits are sold in markets but tend to be rare in home and community gardens in contrast to the amount of vegetables that are grown.  The addition of fruit and nut trees to the landscape offers tremendous ecosystem benefits ranging from climate cooling and rainwater capture to wildlife forage to local food provision.

The specific proposal is the Edible Pocket Woodland or the (in) tended integration of habitat and ecosystem services with food provision in neighborhood settings.  Annuals and herbaceous perennials are included but are not the dominant vegetation type, The concept is inspired by Robert Hart's "forest garden," Hoving's "vest-pocket park," and Sara Stein's "pocket woods."

The arrangement of plants would mimic the layers found in a forest ecosystem similar to Hart's design. The scale and location of the Edible Pocket Woodland within the urban fabric is modeled after the vest-pocket park; it requires small parcels within a neighborhood setting. Finally, the aesthetic would be reminiscent of Stein's pocket woods; a wooded landscape but one that keeps safety concerns at the fore by allowing views through and around the taller vegetation.

We are collecting photographs (and stories and recipes) of edible street trees.  Please submit your photo(s) to info AT localecology.org.  Enjoy! 

Black locust flowers, near Ostbahnhof, along the banks of the Spree River, courtesy of Berlin Plants (source)

Plum tree, Russell Street, Berkeley


Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Churchill Square Park (NYC).  Flowers and seeded pods are highly nutritious (hat tip: A Year With the Trees).

Loquats, Los Angeles, courtesy of Heather Parlato (read Heather's essay at LAist)

Chestnuts (Castanea sativa), Greenwich Park, courtesy of Tom Turner/Gardenvisit.com (Read Tom's essay at gardenvisit.com)

Serviceberry, LaGuardia Place, New York City

Green walnut, Parker Street, Berkeley

Olive, Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

Sour orange, Italy, courtesy of Katydid on the Street

Sour orange, Sevilla

Sour orange, Sacramento

Ginkgo, Berkeley

5 comments:

  1. Fruit trees are some of the most high-maintenance trees, requiring special pruning and adequate water to produce fruit that can be eaten. Not to mention, they have a shorter life span, are more susceptible to pests and disease and need more cleaning up after than the typical street tree. Most street trees are chosen by city planners according to these characteristics so that they don't drain resources and require removal (which can be a monstrous task, especially when blight hits an entire population of street trees).
    That being said, if there are people from the community committed to caring for the trees, I think this a great idea! I was once involved in a fruit tree project that harvested fruit from homeowner's trees that would otherwise be wasted, and distributed it to homeless shelters. Fruit tree harvest is a most unique form of urban agriculture, one that is worth more attention.
    Thanks for the post- glad I found your blog!

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  2. Kate, thank you for your comment. I participated in a forage organization called Forage Oakland (at http://forageoakland.blogspot.com/). Where is the fruit tree project you mentioned?

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  3. OOOh, I'll have to check my Flickr repository and see if I have any of the Pecan trees in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. They were everywhere and the nut production was prolific, delicious and an absolutely marvelous excuse to make pecan pies!

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  4. Well - this is a great idea. I have helped develop a new mapping tool for urban edibles (see www.ediblecities.org) that has recently launched in berkeley, but can be used to map edible trees and other plants anywhere in the world.
    Get out there foragers!!

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  5. Edible Cities, thank you for posting here and leading us to your edibles mapping project. Readers, check out www.ediblecities.org.

    ReplyDelete

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