Every time I go out I’m reminded of the massive amount of food that goes to waste in lawns and yards across America. We see it all the time. Fruit trees with fruit rotting on the ground because no one was there to pick it. Well, I do. I am an urban forager.
The concept is simple. Occasionally my friends, family, neighbors and even strangers will grant me access to their homegrown unwanted fruits and vegetables. Other times I find fruit trees or wild berries on public property. More often than not people have much more growing fruit than they can use and that’s where I come in.
I offer to come harvest whatever they give me permission for and bag it up. I provide my own bags, fruit picker and woman power. I even clean up all the fruit that’s uneatable on the ground and give it to my chickens. They are more than happy to do their part and don’t mind bruised or buggy fruit.
Sometimes people will do the heavy lifting for you! Often people will offer to bag up their fruit and leaving it on their porch for easy pick up. Others will be so willing to pass the fruit along that they will bag it up and drop it off themselves. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get massive hauls a few times a week like the ones pictured here.
Note: Be prepared and plan according. Processing fruit can be time consuming and homegrown food goes bad more quickly than store bought.
The benefits of doing this are endless! Since I don’t have a traditional career, this is one of the many ways I contribute to my family’s household. Fruit is expensive and the nutritional benefits speak for themselves. As you can see below it’s very easy to collect large quantities of quality foods for free!
To make the most out of my hauls, I preserve or process the fruit using various methods including baking, juicing or canning. See my yearly canning list for more details!
If you get way more fruit than your family can use; barter or give it to your friends or family. Also remember that ALL local food pantries accept homegrown foods. Search here to find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you!
To get started, I recommend following these 3 guidelines:
- If it’s on private property ask permission! Most people will say “yes” and if you do get a “no” move on there’s plenty of trees out there and people that will give you the green light. Post a request on social media, Craigslist, or NextDoor.com. If it’s public property, go for it!
- Only take what you can use! There’s plenty of fruit out there! There’s no use in saving fruit from rotting on the ground only to have it rot in your kitchen. Be courtesy and leave some for others. If you get more than you can use, share it with your friends, family or donate it to the local food bank!
- Have fun! It can be hard work, but it’s also very rewarding! Plus you’re getting a work out. Bring a friend or two to help ease the load, and split the rewards. Keep an eye out for public fruit trees on your walks or next trip to the park.
Check out my foraging expeditions here. Hopefully they will inspire you to make some of your own. The potential is limitless.