In 2009 we moved the tour to August and witnessed a real live fruit pick. With volunteers in the trees above, and smiling “tourists” below, we shared more freshly picked fruit, and witnessed the rule of thirds – one for the homeowner that registered the tree, one for the volunteers who did the work and one for the local food bank.
It was another beautiful day and film crews even showed up to capture the magic. Again Laura and Susan co-led the tour, sharing their growing knowledge of urban agriculture.
In 2011 we tried the bitter berries of the European Mountain Ash and tasted some of the delicious preserves from the guys over at Forbes Wild Foods. There was something for everyone – including new ways of seeing the urban forest.
We learned about making teas with native berries, pine needles, and the bright red flowers of the staghorn sumac. It seemed outlandish at first, but the more we listened, the more we realized how disconnected we really were. Of course, one has to be careful - the leaders warned us not to grab anything. “You should always check with someone who knows what they’re doing before foraging for yourself.” Solid advice.
Then LEAF’s Amanda Gomm taught us about the Kentucky coffeetree and how it got its name from the bitter beverage that settlers sometimes brewed when they arrived in the Carolinian region. Not something I’d care to try, but a cool fact nonetheless.
Last year Laura taught us that fruit trees filter what goes into their fruit – keeping out toxins and pollutants. It’s unfortunate that much of our home-grown fruit goes to waste because of the misconception that anything growing in the city must not be fit for eating. But thankfully this view is slowly eroding with the work of groups like The Stop, Foodshare, Friends of Parks, Orchard People and Not Far From The Tree.
There is so much to learn about urban edibles – and so much to eat! Don’t miss this exciting tree tour this year – you never know what surprise may come!