Local Food: Why not plant (or at least graft) fruit trees everywhere?

I was walking with puppy Shadow this morning when I came upon three Indiana University arborists planting trees in a meadow. About 300 trees were blown down on the IU campus alone in April 2011, and another 300 trees city-wide. A lot of young trees have been planted since, including those during an IU student volunteer tree planting day last weekend. But always, I have asked myself, as I pass these newly planted trees, why aren’t they fruit trees? Shouldn’t we be growing our own fruit in a much more conscious manner? After all, the Bloomington community has a Sustainability Director and a Sustainability Commission, and IU itself has an Office of Sustainability, all within the past few years. So what gives?

As Shadow sniffed their pant cuffs, I asked the sweet men planting that non-fruiting tree, “why not fruit trees instead?” and they told me that fruit trees take a lot more work, and so cost more money. (Of course money is the bottom line. Meant to shut down the mind.) I thanked them for the information and we walked on.

When I got home I googled “Do fruit trees require more work than regular trees?” And the answer was yes, for lots of reasons; more pruning, for example, and especially bugs, which, of course, love the fruit as much as humans (and birds, and animals) do! BUT: there are organic ways to deal with bugs. BUT: that’s a lot of work, time, money. Circle back to bottom line.

It makes me even more aware and appreciative of the wonderful Community Orchard Project that Amy Countryman (yes, her real name), then an IU SPEA student, initiated two years ago in partnership with the city.

And it makes me love the four fruit trees we planted three years ago in the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden, and the two I’ve planted in my front yard. Nathan taught me how to prune them, to let in air and light. Don’t know about bugs yet, because it’s only this spring that any of them have flowered.

And it makes me love this short piece on Guerrilla Grafters, thanks to commondreams.org.

Guerrilla Grafters: Undoing Civilization One Fruitless Branch At A Time

April 10, 2012

by Abby Zimet

Disdaining the notion of both fruitless fruit trees and “fresh” produce shipped from afar and wrapped in plastic, the San Francisco-based Guerrilla Grafters graft fruit-bearing branches onto the city’s ornamental cherry, plum and pear trees to create a “culture of care” – and fruit for all. Illegal, but tasty.

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