I know right, what a tree! Those apples are near full sized but the label (yes I was in the arboretum. No, I was not pilfering from NCC land. I happened to be walking there and figured it was worth a pic-ture) as the crab apple variety Geneva.
My friends have been passing around my book on urban foraging for some time now so I don't have it in front of me to give you the title but it encourages us to eye that giant crabapple, the black walnut and bird started sunflowers with a little more hunger. Of course, some might be concerned because of the unknown growing conditions of this food or whether or not a tree overhanging an alley is ripe for the picking.
I admit to contemplating running to the hawthornes in our local park, basket in hand, but something has always held me back. Maybe because, with the exception of some clambakes and blackberry bonanzas, all my food has been traded for currency. Seed donation (my seed list in side bar) has been a nice departure from money for food. In fact, one thing I do harvest frequently from the urban jungle are seeds.
Edible times three,: mallows, cattails and sumac. I always worry about waterway pollution.
Once I grow the plant, I don't have to worry about whether it was sprayed (Ontario has banned 'cosmetic' death-icides) or is growing in lead contaminated soil. I never take many, just a few from a wide population of plants. If it is a tree / plant that overhangs public property but originates in a private residence, I ask and after giving me a weird look they generally say, "go for it."
Of course, you can chat with your neighbours who seem to be neglecting to make sorbus jelly * or choke cherry wine and ask if they would mind sharing. You could offer in exchange to take care of cleaning up windfalls and prune in the spring if needed. Or how about have an urban sugar bush next year? Our block is lined with gorgeous, well grown sugar maples. Someone could build a boiling vat in their backyard. At the end, everyone gets maple syrup taffy. Sounds better than the usual block garage sale.
So tell me, what have you plucked from the concrete maze?
* The author of the linked article speaks mediocre about the taste of sorbus/rowan berries but my kids like them after a couple weeks of hard frost when they sweeten considerably.
Urban Orchards - I would post a link but I couldn't find one. There are rumours about a group in Ottawa who offer to take care of your fruit trees for a percentage of the produce. However, I have never met these ghost people. Are you there? Can you hear me? Knock twice... I'm waiting for a message. I suspect that, at the very least, it is going on in an informal way. If anyone knows contact detail, I'd love to pass it along.
Instead, here is the Hamilton Fruit Tree Project
Some other fruit tree projects in BC cities
Guerilla Gardening Ottawa - break the rules and plant something. This is another mysterious entity in that there seems to be a loosely connected group of people who do some dig and dash gardening but they don't appear to be well organized?? Go on, correct me with details!