Funny how things happen. Last night, I picked a loquat from my neighbor's tree that hangs over the fence for my four-year-old son, Moss—who, being a fruitaholic, loved it. This morning, when I went back to the tree to snap a picture to write a blog about loquats, Moss wanted another one but I couldn't reach it. (Feet stomping ensued.) And now I go to the Times to see that Kim Severson has written an article ("Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?") about the growing movement of urban fruit foragers. It starts like this: "The loquats were ripe and just begging to be picked." She doesn't mention a temper tantrum though.
She does, however, clear up the fact that if fruit it hanging over someone's fence into public property, then it's legal to pick it (something I've wondered about). Severson also quotes a cook from Eccolo in Berkeley who once "stumbled upon so many fallen green walnuts on a sidewalk that she piled a bunch into a blanket she retrieved from her car, and made nocino, a walnut liqueur. Ms. Nosrat calls it opportunistic cooking, which she means in the best way." I like that idea. All cooking should be opportunisitc.
While Severson refers to the East Bay's hunter-gatherer movement, she omits SF, which has plenty of fruit up for grabs, even if the weather isn't quite as condusive to it.
There's Forage SF, My Farm SF [part of 7x7's Best Of picks list year] and Neighborhood Fruit: 'Cos Fruit From Your Hood is Good. Neighborhood Fruit's site even allows you to plug in your zip code to find out if there's fruit available near by. (Turns out, a person who has lemons to offer only lives only a 10 minute walk from my house.) They even have designed monthly labels such as a "Loquat Locator." And the FAQ page lists addresses all sorts of scary what-ifs, including what if someone tries to sue you (Neighborhood Fruit offers liability waivers and recommends against using ladders to let people pick the fruit); what if you have a truckload of zucchini; and what if someone tries to use Neighborhood Fruit as "an opportunity to observe your house and plan a break-in?" The answer: "Similar to Craigslist or eBay, we cannot guarantee that the people you will interact with through Neighborhood Fruit will all be good people." Beware of the casual fruit encounter.