Sure, the New York Times does tend to overhype food trends, but I was excited to read Tuesday’s article about fruit foraging and sharing. It seems I’m not alone in taking an interest in urban foraging:
All over the country, the underground fruit economy is growing. At new Web sites like neighborhoodfruit.com and veggietrader.com, fruit seekers can find public mulberry patches in Pennsylvania and neighbors willing to trade blackberries in Oklahoma.
In Royal Oak, Mich., a woman investigated how to start a fruit exchange modeled after Fallen Fruit (fallenfruit.org), an arts group that designs maps of accessible fruit growing in Los Angeles neighborhoods.
In Alaska, cooks used Facebook to find willing donors of backyard rhubarb, the first dessert crop that grows after the long winter. In Columbia, S.C., university students pulled spare peaches from orchards and donated them to a local food bank.
Supporters of this movement hold two basic principles. One, it’s a shame to let fruit go to waste. And two, neighborhood fruit tastes best when it’s free.
As far as I can see, nobody has added any tree locations in DC to neighborhoodfruit.com’s map. I wish the website were clearer about whether it’s okay to add trees on public property to the map. After several convincing arguments regarding their flavor, last weekend I successfully foraged for mulberries. There’s a great stand of trees near the P Street bridge between Georgetown and Dupont, plus lots of trees near the Newark Street Community Garden and in several Cleveland Park locations. Back in Olympia, my mother and I would jealously guard our secret wild blackberry locations, but I have no problem sharing the mulberries – provided it’s legal. Hmm…
As for those foraged mulberries from last weekend, I decided to dry them using my food dehydrator. They really shrank down! What started off as four cups went down to about a cup and a half. I think I’ll use them in to make mulberry-studded scones for my Cleveland Park friends, who are moving to a hip new place on U Street this weekend. Most of the berries came from trees near their soon-to-be-former house, so they can have a taste of the old neighborhood for their new place’s housewarming.