Los Angeles residents follow Fallen Fruit’s maps to find fruit trees on public property. Over on the other coast, the Boston Tree Party is celebrating the spirit of “civic fruit” by planting heirloom apple trees in public spaces. And now we’ve got our very own orchard activists launching all sorts of fruit-centric projects around town this spring: the Baltimore Orchard Project.
Founded by a group of movers and shakers from the local sustainability and food scenes, BOP has two main projects: to glean fruit from public places and distribute it to those in need; and to partner with individuals and organizations to plant trees, orchards, berry bushes, and grapevines to make sure Baltimore only gets fruitier.
It’s pretty much a win-win proposition. As BOP director Nina Beth Cardin recently pointed out in the Baltimore Sun, trees have been proven to reduce neighborhood crime, vandalism, and stress; they create shade, provide food, and — well, they just look pretty. And there are less concrete benefits, too — the BOP’s blog waxes poetic about how “fruit trees anchor our living spaces. They are echoes of Eden, offering us a vision of goodness, comfort, plenty, security and a far-reaching time-horizon. They give us a sense of constancy, holding out the promise that both they, and hopefully we, will be here not just this season, but the next, and the next, for years to come. And when we are gone, they gently hint, they will go on bringing forth fruit for generations.”
There are several ways to get involved. The fruit harvest, which will take place this fall, needs volunteers. If you know of any existing fruit trees the group can glean from, point that out on their website. (An environmental geography class at Towson is already underway, researching the arboreal history of local neighborhoods and creating maps of harvestable trees.) And if your school/neighborhood/organization/workplace/congregation wants to organize a fruit tree planting party, they can help with that, too.