Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Urban organic gardens

Last fall, Eric Alperin, a San Francisco artist, heard about blackberries, plums and loquats growing on public property in his city and free for the picking.

Armed with bags and a pole device for picking fruit from tall branches, Alperin and his wife went foraging.

"It was great," he said. "We picked as much as we could carry and had beautiful, fresh, free city fruit," Alperin said. "I'll definitely go (picking) again." Fruit-picking opportunities like that are becoming more common, as volunteers in cities including Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Madison, Wis., mobilize behind a goal of planting fruit trees on public land in city parks and neighborhoods.

"This is part of what's obviously been an explosion in interest in locally grown and organic food," said Janet Parker, a founding member of a group called Madison Fruits and Nuts. "I think we're coming to realize more and more that it doesn't make any sense, at this late date with climate change being what it is, to truck in so much of our food from California, in the cases of apples, sometimes New Zealand."

. . . Akin said that in the past year, his group has been inundated with funding requests from cities and counties in California, Nevada, Georgia, Wyoming, Florida, Arizona and Vermont. The group will make funding decisions on these projects this year.

Since 2005, the foundation has provided trees and advice to planting projects in 20 states, Akin said.

The irony in ingesting fruits and vegetables from these "organic and locally grown" urban gardens is that urban soil is full of toxic material and heavy metals. I wouldn't eat anything grown in the White House garden or New York's Central Park or any inner city.

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