Monday, May 10, 2010

Urban Foraging

(It looks like Meredith is going to win this challenge hands-down.)

I am super grumpy today, but I wanted to share this completely brilliant idea I had. I don't know why no one's thought of it before. Okay, probably someone has, but I am claiming credit.

Access to fresh local produce in low-income urban communities is a huge problem. In communities where food access is limited to convenience foods like soda, chips, and fast food, we see much higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. We can't forget that the new face of hunger is obesity. This is an epidemic.

So here's my thought: Cities spend considerable resources every year on landscaping (especially Rochester, the "Flower City"). They plant trees along sidewalks and other plants in parks, playgrounds, city building grounds, and even on highway medians. Why not plant edible perennials in these areas? We could feed bring fresh produce to thousands by offering the opportunity to forage on public land.

Planting apple trees along the sidewalk would not consume any more resources than the merely ornamental trees regularly planted. The same goes for other landscaping throughout the city. This tiny change in city policy could make a huge difference without expending any extra resources.

I just so happened to sit next to the mayor of Rochester at an interfaith function last month. I may need to give him ring. What do ya'll think?


  1. I think it's a great idea. I think your case would be stronger if you find out the costs that would go into planting apple vs. ornamental trees/flowers.

  2. Great idea. Lettuce and spinach seeds are super cheap and grow quickly. Perhaps they are not as aesthetically pleasing as petunias but have you ever eaten a petunia? As for trees, fruit trees tend to require more pruning and care than the standards and don't reach the "shade height" many urban planners look for lining streets. However, they'd be great for park areas. You just need to convince them that less-than-picture-perfect apples (i.e. unsprayed apples) are as delicious and healthier than their poisoned cousins.