Your neighbors’ fruit: a few suggestions about asking for some

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    We have berry bushes we grow on our parking strip and it’s easy to imagine how attractive the berries are to folks walking by. There are times we’d like to share and times we prefer not to. Here are some tips for interested passersby:

    1. If you are a friend, you know who you are. It is a joy to share with you and your kids, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s wonderful to help kids “get” the wonder of actual food growing on actual plants.

    2. If you don’t know the owner and want to know if you can have some fruit, introduce yourself. Don’t leave notes on the trees or bushes. Come knock on the door or leave a note with your contact info in the mailbox.

    3. Be aware of what you’re asking for. For example, a pie’s worth of fruit is 4 to 6 cups. That is a lot of berries. Unless someone is not harvesting their fruit or actually offers that much of it, it’s probably too much to ask for. Apples and plums, on the other hand, are probably okay.

    4. If you do ask and the homeowner agrees to share, it would go a long way if you offered to share something in exchange. You may have raspberries and I have blueberries…perfect. Or offer a muffin you plan to bake from the fruit. You get the picture.

    5. Be aware that urban farmers often preserve and freeze their fruit for use throughout the year.

    6. If you are passing by and can’t resist, take a small taste. Don’t make breakfast out of it for heaven’s sake!

    That’s it. Thanks for reading.



    JayTe, I agree with you for the most part. I would never take anything that had not specifically been offered. I am also a retired professional gardener, and rely on my backyard edibles to supplement my small fixed income.

    However, legally speaking, you have no claim to anything grown on the planting strip. It is public property, and regardless of who paid for, planted, or maintained the trees or plants there – they are not technically yours. And while most people would not mess with permanent landscaping, fruit on a tree or shrub as part of that landscaping could easily be interpreted as up for grabs. I know there are people that will enter a yard or reach over a fence to harvest edibles that they have no right to (that’s trespassing and theft), but on a planting strip – I think even fairly conscientious people might get confused.

    I get what you’re saying – I really do – but if you’re growing fruit for your own consumption then you probably need to restrict those plants to your own fenced yard.

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