Our earliest ancestors hunted and gathered. And now, gathering is back in style in the form of food foraging.
Around the globe, people have taken to the streets to collect edibles — like fruits, nuts, mushrooms, and herbs — and two University of Colorado computer geeks want to help them succeed. Meet Caleb Philips and Ethan Welty, creators of Falling Fruit, an interactive, crowd-sourced map of pickable produce in public spaces. From their web site:
Falling Fruit is a celebration of the overlooked culinary bounty of our city streets. By quantifying this resource on a map, we hope to facilitate intimate connections between people, food, and the natural organisms growing in our neighborhoods. Not just a free lunch! Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food.
I find this project cool for a number of reasons. First, Caleb and Ethan leveraged existing data captured in regional foraging maps and municipal tree inventories to create a valuable, comprehensive resource. Second, they’ve opened up the map to anyone who knows of additional spots to forage. (You don’t even have to create an account, which is awesome.) The database currently represents about 675 different varieties of edibles and spans the globe with almost 600,000 different locations. They continue to grow the database as they discover additional data sources.
Growing food in public spaces has the potential to bring food security to those who need it. In Seattle, they’ve begun work on the nation’s first public food forest. In Massachusetts, the Boston Tree Party is planting heirloom apple trees in public spaces. And in San Francisco, Guerilla Grafters are splicing productive fruit branches onto the city’s non-fruiting ornamental trees, transforming them into fruit bearers. Falling Fruit’s open source map can help us find the fruits of these labors.
Have you ever foraged for food?
Image Credit: Juicy, Colorful Apples On The Tree via Shutterstock