Neighbors Salvage Produce Growing on Foreclosed Property

In communities where foreclosures have left many houses vacant, abandoned fruit trees and backyard gardens prove tempting to neighbors. Although it is technically considered trespassing to enter the yards of foreclosed properties, many people, like Atlanta native Kelly Callahan, feel morally obligated to gather and distribute ripe fruit and vegetables.

Quoted in this New York Times article, she said, “I don’t think of it as stealing. These things were planted by a person who was going to harvest them. That person no longer has the ability to. It’s not like the bank people who sit in their offices are going to come out here and pick figs.”

As the popularity of urban gardening grows, the laws governing who can pick what and where they can pick it are becoming more fuzzy. Concrete Jungle is an Atlanta-based organization that maps out where food can be found growing on public land, making it easy for enterprising gatherers and those in need of fresh food to locate it in the city.

While Callahan’s efforts to gather and use produce from foreclosed properties are technically illegal, it seems like even more of a crime to let fresh food go to waste when so many people are in need.

I live and garden in a rural area I more than understand the frustration that comes from finding an overgrown cucumber or rotten tomato. Wasted food, especially home-grown produce, is an easily-avoided problem. I donate much of what I grow to Loaves & Fishes, a non-profit food pantry in Naperville, IL.

While many food pantries do not have the refrigerator capacity to store large amounts of fresh produce, others will happily take donated fruits and veggies.

What do you think of harvesting produce from foreclosed properties? What are some other ways to help hungry people in your community?

Related Stories:

How to Reduce Waste and Keep Food Fresh

How to Find Fresh Food in the Big City: Urban Foraging

Food Bank Bags $15k with Cause Marketing, Social Media

Photo credit: bgreenlee


jessica w.
jessica w.4 years ago


Emma Lawson
Emma Lawson5 years ago

That's awesome. It would be awful to waste that much produce.

Abbe A.
Azaima A.5 years ago


BROOKE W.5 years ago


dve d.
wiz w.5 years ago


David N.
David N.5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Valerie A.
Valerie A.5 years ago


Alison Personal Messages
Alison A.5 years ago

In today's world, we should not be wasting good produce, it should be a crime to purposely let it all go rotten. Thanks for posting.

Carole K.
Carole K.5 years ago

Take a page from past history. Many cultures have worked into their societal matrix the concept of gleaning with it's unwritten law of rules & procedures. Actually, that this topic even surfaces in public debate is a positive social indicator. Heretofore, most ppl had a throw-away mentality; & now some are beginning to realize how wasteful as a nation we are. Having grown up in rural poverty, gleaning is how my family survived. The social mechanism of gleaning is comfortable, wonderful & beautiful to my way of thinking. I'm delighted to see it promoted in this way & glad to note the public support of it. I remember from my childhood, when our family gleaned from a neighbor's excess (say apples), my mother would re-gift back to the donor an apple pie or quart of apple sauce, etc. (products of our family's labor). Not sure how that part of it would work with the IM-personal bank or corporate loan office (NO, corporations are NOT people, my friend!) Find a way to help someone else eat today, I challenge you...............................

doris kelsey
Past Member 5 years ago

The horse industry has collapsed with the closing of the processing plants. Because of the drought in Texas and Oklahoma, all the extra hay in my area has moved south. I will not have enough to feed my ponies this winter and being unable to sell them, I will be slaughtering some to get rid of them. I won't be able to sell the meat, but I will accept donations. If we had humane processing here in the US, I would not be in this situation, which most of my friends are in also.