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Let Them Eat Fruit: The Guerrilla Grafters Strike

Apples ripening on a tree

San Francisco is experiencing an unexpected windfall of free fruit thanks to a group of graft-happy gardeners. They call themselves the Guerrilla Grafters and because of their vision, trees lining the city streets are suddenly beginning toย  produce perfectly edible food.

Their motto:

โ€œUndoing civilization one branch at a timeโ€ฆโ€

Theย Guerrilla Grafters are splicing productive branches onto the city’s non-fruiting ornamental trees and transforming them into fruit bearing trees. The cityโ€™s once strictly ornamental apple, cherry, and pear trees are slowly and successfully being re-purposed as food producers.

Why didnโ€™t the city plant fruit producing trees in the first place? It seems that fruit trees in urban centers are frowned upon for attracting rodents and for the rotting fruit littering the sidewalks. The Guerrilla Grafters have a solution to those concerns: they only graft trees that have caretakers who commit to their proper upkeep.

Their goal is to set an example and demonstrate that fruit trees don’t have to be a nuisance. In fact, with a little effort, a city with fruit trees can be a food forest.

Photo: Urban Artichoke

Video: *faircompanies

6 comments
  1. GH

    That’s really interesting. I’ve often wondered what the purpose of flowering varieties of apple/pear/cherry/mulberry were when it would be so much nicer to have flower and fruit. Obviously the rotting fruit and the problems it attracts are an issue if it is near a walkway (though I simply can’t understand why you would plant a non-fruiting one out in your yard then go buy fruit), but it will be neat to hear if people really keep up with these, or if the old line of though about rotting fruit getting messy turns out to hold true.

    I wonder if it will have an affect on the other treats. If memory serves, there was an instance once where a city planted a bunch of non-fruiting somethings, but they were all the same genetically identical cultivar. Then someone planted something that pollinated it. Hilarity did not ensure. I think it became invasive. I don’t know much about things you can’t eat though so I have no idea if it will have any impact on other non-fruiting trees. Eh, probably not.

    1. Urban Artichoke

      Yes, for us gardeners of edible things it seems really bizarre not to plant the fruit-producing tree. I do understand the critter problem tho’. I live in the SF Bay Area and we have critters a plenty who are very appreciative of the fruit and veggies we generously provide- so it takes some persistence to beat them to it at harvest time. I’m not sure what effect could be expected on the other trees, as you suggest- but certainly pollination will be enhanced in a cluster of grafted/ornamental trees.

      Did you view the video? They interview a fellow who is one of the tree caretakers- very interesting. Since these appear to be a few grafted branches per tree I don’t think they’ll have a huge surplus of fruit (lots of foodies in SF!). I will definitely keep an eye on their progress. it’s a very creative idea/action.

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