Good news for urban foragers, as a recent study from Wellsley finds no higher pollution levels in fruit harvested from urban areas than elsewhere. Geosciences professor Dan Brabander and his students partnered with a community foraging group called the League of Urban Canners (LurC) to study fruit growing in the Boston metro area.
Assisted by collections from LUrC, the students visited a variety of urban sites to gather specimens, which they then brought back to Brabander’s lab on campus. After collecting nearly 200 samples of apples, peaches, cherries and other urban fruits and herbs, analyzing forty to date, the team found that eating urban fruit is not a significant source of lead exposure, when compared to the EPA-regulated benchmark for lead in drinking water. They also found that, compared to commercially grown fruits, urban apples and peaches had higher concentrations of calcium, iron and other micronutrients.
More on the study and its findings here.
As the popularity of urban foraging increases, harvesters are finding new ways to share information and new uses for found food.
Falling Fruit is a Colorado-based nonprofit dedicated to mapping edible plants in urban settings. The collaborative project invites users to add foraging locations to an ever-growing database. The map lists 175 spots in the Triangle and 4,000 in Asheville.
In North Carolina, Durham-based brewery Fullsteam has encouraged foragers to help source persimmons, figs, paw paws and other fruits to use in their award-winning plow-to-pint beers.
Too many trees go unpicked: persimmons, pears, figs, paw paws. Seeds mature into a resplendent harvest, only to go untouched until frost. We hear it all the time: “We have a persimmon tree…but the fruit just falls to the ground and makes a mess.” “Our pear tree produced more than we knew what to do with.” We know what to do with it. Let’s make beer. Let’s ferment what we forage.
Read more here.
Taking a more subversive approach to found food, the San Francisco-based Guerilla Grafters work to transform city sidewalks into mini-orchards:
The Guerilla Grafters graft fruit bearing branches onto non-fruit bearing, ornamental fruit trees. Over time, delicious, nutritious fruit is made available to urban residents through these grafts. We aim to prove that a culture of care can be cultivated from the ground up. We aim to turn city streets into food forests, and unravel civilization one branch at a time.
More on the Guerilla Grafters here.