Edible Cities provides an intuitive interface for mapping out publicly available food sources and enables a more sustainable mode of food production that lessens our environmental impact.
The use of urban edibles will increase the consumption of locally grown, in-season foods and reduce our dependence on both fossil fuels and large commercial enterprises.
In the process, our contributors will achieve a more intimate relationship with both food sources and our urban habitat – a different way of looking at the cityscape.
Respect others and their property
If a tree seems like it may not be on public property, ALWAYS reach out to the property owner to ask for permission. In a large majority of cases, people are happy to share their harvest. This is a good practice even where people have planted trees on the center divide of a public street, especially when the property owner is clearly tending to said fruit trees.
Please be mindful of the effect that your harvesting will have on the plant and others that, like you, might want to enjoy its bounty. Be careful not to damage trees while harvesting; if the available quantity isn't abundant please take only what your can easily use and try to leave some fruit for the next person on a foraging expedition. If the fruit cannot be used easily and is abundant (ie cherry plum trees that are only appropriate for jams and gellies) feel free to pick the tree clean and all will be glad to be rid of the mess that this fruit often causes.
While this website provides information sharing on the location of public edibles, you are ultimately responsible for selecting fruits and shrubs that are non-poisonous and safe to eat. If you don't readily recognize a type of fruit please do your research and ask others before diving in. The same applies to the environmental contamination (heavy metals, runoff) that sometimes comes with an urban environment. While most municipalities (and the City of Berkeley is no exception) do not widely use pesticides to control weed growth, you should also try to find out as much as possible about practices in and around your neighborhood. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using plants where you have any hesitation about safety and find out as much as possible about the environment around such plants.
'Edible Cities' is a non-profit organization; we leverage technology to create awareness of the multitude of local food sources growing on public lands, provide a better connection to urban environment, and understanding of the provenance of our food. The site is a simple, intuitive interface for users anywhere to map out publicly available edible plant sources, track fruit that is in season, and share information about specific trees and shrubs. The accuracy and completeness of our map is dependent on 'crowd sourcing', so please take the time to add a couple of fruit trees you know about in your neighborhood, or some that you see on your travels.
The project was borne out of both nostalgia for an earlier time where public fruit harvesting was in every kid's repertoire (alas that is not longer the case today) and longing for a utopia where a good portion of our food production is done within city limits.
Fruit trees are most efficient at this, and it is in fact conceivable for all human fruit needs to be addressed by street trees where houses are the dominant type of dwelling. Each house has 3-6 trees around it, so the ability to produce 200x5 = 1000 fruit per season. We each consume about 2 pieces of fruit per day, so about 500 per year; that means the immediate vicinity can provide the fresh fruit for 2 adults per household, and that is discounting parks, green spaces around places of business and other unused space that would be available. Of course such scenarios pose some big logistical challenges, such a rampant rodent population that would result from easily accessible food, but they are not insurmountable.
For now, mapping should make both the city happy (less unharvested mess to clean up) and those of us that believe in leaving a lesser footprint on mother earth and the joy of exploring the urban forest
Click here to email comments and suggestions.
You can also use Twitter to insert new entries! Just tweet the name of the fruit or plant and the corresponding address to @edblcities.
For example: @edblcities: lemon tree on Milvia and Hearst.