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Fruit Falling on Your Head? Harvest It!

The Falling Fruit online map allows users to enter an address to locate free, foragable fruits, nuts and even spices such as lavender or pink peppercorns. (fallingfruit.org)
The Falling Fruit online map allows users to enter an address to locate free, foragable fruits, nuts and even spices such as lavender or pink peppercorns. (fallingfruit.org)
August 22, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa – If it's not raindrops falling on your head, it might be an apricot, cherries, apples or plums – and a foraging group wants to make sure it's not wasted.

Falling Fruit, a six-year-old nonprofit organization, calls attention to overlooked areas where food can be freely harvested.

Co-founder Ethan Welty says thousands of people around the globe contribute to the group's online, interactive map showing public lands, rights-of-way and even alleys where people can forage for food, especially in urban areas.

"First of all, they've been walking under this tree for years going to work and not noticing there that it's a cherry tree or an apple tree dropping fruit on their head,” he states. “And I realize that you really need this mental switch, like you have to be told that there's food growing for free in a city, otherwise you're just not looking for it."

Welty describes the online map as a tool that facilitates an exchange of information.

He notes that in the past week, map users added locations for black walnuts in Illinois, blackberries in England, wild grapes in Oregon and a fig tree in Washington, D.C.

Welty describes Falling Fruit as a match making service between people who live in cities and the area's food-bearing plants.

Although most locations are publicly accessible, he says growers often have more than they can harvest.

"Also, we have a lot of property owners that do add their trees to the map, saying 'Please knock on my door,' or whatever the terms of agreement are, inviting people to come harvest," he states.

According to Welty, some states and countries contribute more than others to the map because they have a tree inventory. He says the goal is not to feed the world, but simply help people recover food that otherwise would go to waste.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA