Urban Foraging for Everyone: Students Plant LA’s New Urban Fruit Trail
While for centuries we harvested our own food, these days most of us get it from a market or grocery store. That’s especially true if we live in an urban environment where it’s rare that we have the opportunity to pick our own produce–yet there’s something beautiful, even relaxing, about harvesting food with your own hands, which is why urban programs that provide more access to freshly grown food are not only cool, but beneficial for the entire community.
In Los Angeles a youth outreach group is working to create a fruit tree trail, to not only bring greenery to the community, but promote healthy eating and encourage the residents to get out and walk more. Lined with 150 fruit trees, the MacArthur Park Urban Fruit Trail is the pilot program of Endless Orchard, a “global-scale public art project, which will provide often-overlooked urban communities with public walking trails lined by fruit trees.”
The trees will be planted, sustained, nurtured and harvested by the public. “Fruit trails can create an abundant neighborhood and celebrate a community of sharing,” said Austin Young, one of the artists behind the project. “It’s about transforming our relationship to the city and each other,” adds his colleague David Burns. The two of them run Fallen Fruit, a collaborative that began by mapping fruit trees growing on or over public property in Los Angeles. Since then, they have expanded to include serialized public projects and site-specific installations and happenings in various cities around the world. The fruit trail is just the latest of their projects.
Working with students, they want to plant about 70 of the trees this July, and the rest will be planted by neighborhood residents. What’s more, the trees are meant to be used year-round and, once the trees start growing fruit, residents are encouraged to pick and enjoy. Plums and peaches will grow in the summer, pomegranates and persimmons in the fall, and lemons, limes, oranges and kumquats in the spring and winter.
The Urban Fruit Trail is similar to the Beacon Fruit Forest in Seattle, an edible urban forest garden open to the public. While a fruit tree may not be a possibility for an urban apartment dweller, a walk down a fruit trail might provide the very next best thing–and what better way to appreciate the seasons than to pick a piece of locally grown fruit?
“We need more trees and less trash,” 17-year-old Carole Sanchez, who is involved in the fruit tree trail project, told the Los Angeles Times. “We need to stop destroying nature and start giving back. That’s why this is so cool.”
Photo Credit: Tobias