Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hunting Season

... fruit hunting season, that is.
Now is the time that I start my annual urban foraging for fruit hanging from trees, overflowing from local farmer's beds and even wild produce from the mountains, like Chantrell mushrooms.

I live in a mountainous valley that was once a heavy fruit-producing valley, with a large river coming down from the San Juan mountains that still feeds the remnants of this once fertile fruit baring land. This year is not as good of a fruit year as most, due to a hard frost this past spring, yet one can still find plums and apples ripening. An old landlord just called to tell me to come harvest some concord grapes as well. The canning begins.

In most places I have lived and visited in the autumn, I have found fruits for the picking. It just takes an adventurous will and maybe even some networking to find people with unwanted fruit and produce. Some places like Hood River, Oregon have a Fruit Loop Map as well as Portland, Oregon that has a 'pick your own fruit' map.

How can your community design a local urban/rural food map to help people find wanted/unwanted fruit hanging from the trees and overflowing from some farmer's beds that just can't be harvested fast enough? Is it possible for communities to map these local food sources to help direct free food to food pantries and maybe even schools or just help community members access free local produce?

How to get started in creating your local food map?
Start by looking at other communities working with food maps, like those in Hood River, Portland or how Making Local Food Work in England has established a step by step approach to establishing food web mapping.
1. Hold a community meeting or workshop at your local library, coffee house or park.
2. Build a hot core of people dedicated to creating a food map.
3. Bring in people on board from the community- put on a community ride/rides to map out local fruit and produce in your area.
4. Advertise for some local artists to volunteer their talents to design the food map.
5. Distribute and post on local social platforms and city website.
6. Maybe even carry on with your local food campaign by holding canning and preserving workshops, bringing community members together for local food preservation