Have you ever read a listing for a house for sale or an apartment for rent that advertised one of the added benefits to the property as the ‘fruit trees’ in the back yard? From the Mormon Primary songbook:
“I looked out the window, and what did I see? Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!
Spring had brought me such a nice surprise, Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat, a popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be, Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.”
If you’ve lived with an apricot tree in Utah when the little orange globes of goodness ripened, you know that often the trees are prolific beyond reason. The farmer’s markets around the state are now full of the abundance of the peach and apple harvest for sale because we’re had an abundant growing season. Yet so much produce from private properties goes unpicked, unused- rotting and fermenting on the ground with a result of your dog getting drunk on falling pears.
There’s a great movement around the country to address the waste of potential local harvests that has filtered into some great programs in Utah. Salt Lake City has jumped on the bandwagon to help reduce food waste at SLC Green: “Each year as they come into season, apricots, apples, peaches and plums often go uneaten, falling in the streets and yards of Salt Lake City. As part of an initiative to reduce food waste, the City has partnered with Tree Utah, Avenues Fruitshare, Green Urban Lunchbox and Salt Lake Community Action Program to create an online database where residents can register their fruit trees.” The inventory of fruit trees helps these organizations create a harvesting program staffed with volunteer groups to harvest fruit and nuts from registered trees and provide occasional pruning of the branches. All information about addresses and homeowners is kept confidential.
If you register your fruit trees on the site you let folks know that you want to share in the harvest. It’s not a sure thing to expect a group of volunteers to show up in your back yard to pick your apples, but it could happen. The programs rely on the amount of volunteers they get who are interested in picking at any given time and the registration of desiring tree owners to share plentiful harvests. Certain trees may not be eligible due to height, hazards or location.
The great thing about clearing out your sagging, ripe trees is that the fruit nudged from the trees will be split with food banks, the homeowner and the pickers. It’s an edible circle of love benefiting everyone. You can register your trees or sign up to be a volunteer at slcgov.com/slcgreen/fruitshare. I also want to give kudos to the Green Urban Lunch Box (search Facebook) and their mobile school bus /greenhouse. These folk empower people to take control of their food system by demonstrating how to create more urban agriculture and urban farms. Their 35-foot school bus is available as a mobile teaching classroom that travels to schools and community events. They were recently parked at the Craft Salt Lake festival and their big yellow bus had tomato plants exploding from inside out the windows. The sight of it made me and the youngsters around it giggle with glee to see a big mobile garden on our downtown street. Happy harvest you all!