Foodie Foraging In Heritage Neighborhoods

| 11/16/2017 2:32:00 PM


Every city has grown out from heritage neighborhoods, uniquely identifiable by the presence of big, old, fruit and nut trees originally planted by our great-great-grandparents as food assets.  After decades of suburban sprawl and in-fill housing, most of the trees have been eliminated.  Finding a fruit tree in the city can indicate that you’re in a heritage neighborhood.  Things change: ask a resident today and often you’ll hear they don’t know what kind of tree it is and consider it to be a nuisance, haven’t tended to its care, nor tasted the fruit!

This year I wanted to become more sustainable by offsetting my food costs with foraged food. The season started with the Seed Swap held at the main branch of the County Library in Klamath Falls, Oregon, last winter.  I brought seeds of alpine plants I gathered in the mountains and traded for carrot seeds from a local gardener.  Then I raised my hand and asked if the group was planning to make an effort to harvest neglected tree fruit.  A signup sheet was passed around and about five people were interested, on a wait-and-see basis, reporting that it had been many years since the last good fruit yield in this town.

Finding Connection Through Urban Foraging Group

Through email and meetings the urban foraging group started thinking about the Senior Center, whose members probably know of, or have, apple trees to share, and would they like to have a cider-making fund-raiser? The Senior Center director said yes; our group ran a clip-out add in the Senior Center flyer in the newspaper to connect with them.  We needed a place to store apples before cider making, and I asked the Klamath Food Bank for the use of their cold storage — they said yes.

We lacked a cider press and grinder, so I asked the local Tool Library if they could acquire one; they said not unless it was donated. Then questions came up about liability insurance and ladders. To move forward, we met with a rep from the Oregon Food Bank headquarters in Portland, who explained how farm produce is gleaned from Willamette Valley and donated to a network of food banks around the state.  In fact, our local home gardeners and farmers contribute 30,000 pounds of produce each year.  I asked for guidance from a more experienced group, the Portland Fruit Tree Project; they shared their volunteer waiver forms.

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