The New York Times had a charming piece yesterday by Kim Severson about foraging for fruit in urban neighborhoods. My basic feeling is, "Yeah!" It's just a shame to let beautiful food go to waste, so if the owner of an old fruit tree or vine is not using the fruit, why not reach up off the sidewalk and pick some?
For example, my six year-old is madly in love with the small blue slipskin grapes on a chainlink fence around an old house in Saratoga. Every time she walks by, she comes away with her hands full of a bunch of them. I cannot persuade her that they belong to somebody else–and I'm not sure they really do.
On the other hand, I've had peach trees on my hellstrip for the last few years, and I lose most of the fruit to the track season drunks coming home from our fair city's umpteen bars, who then spit the pits into my neighbor's garbage can. Right now, that makes me mad. In a few years, I'll be getting enough peaches to have a sense of humor about it.
I've been planting fruit like crazy for the last few years, because I am just weary to death of bad, expensive supermarket fruit. In the country, I have rhubarb, grapes, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pie cherries, pears, and cow apples planted long ago. I can't say that I've harvested much except the cow apples and the rhubarb. The rest, the birds make off with just as they are getting ripe. This year, I've gotten stingier and netted most of it.
In the city, I keep finding new spots for fruit trees even in a tiny yard. In addition to the peaches, which are delicious beyond belief, I have a white grape vine, a newly planted blue slipskin grape for Grace, an apricot tree, two plum trees, two just-planted sweet cherries, and some new blackberries that I made sun for by taking down a rotting section of fence.
Come by in a few years. I'll share.