Are you starting to get a little low on the idea-o-meter for end of summer vacation activities for the kids? Well, with harvest season at full throttle, this amazing, interactive, world map from Falling Fruit may just buy you a day or two of grace. The map charts known fruit trees on publicly accessible land, and as an added bonus, you and your family can add your own finds to the map and share your knowledge of where to forage local food with the world.
The team from the nonprofit Falling Fruit have long been involved in urban foraging and freeganism, and they are all map geeks. It was really only a matter of time before they pooled their resources to build their interactive map. As they state: “Our map of urban edibles is not the first of its kind, but we aspire to be the world’s most comprehensive.” They have drawn on everything from small urban foraging maps to city council tree inventories and compiled them into one resource that’s as easy to operate as Google maps.
To use the map, simply home in on your neighborhood or town and see what’s listed. At time of writing, the map has 767 different types of edibles (generally plant species) in 612,421 locations worldwide. Many of the listings have personalized notes added in by the lister. If a tree is in season, grab a bag or two and go visit. Even if your local trees aren’t in season, visiting them provides a good opportunity for kids to learn about the origins of their favorite fruits and how to identify fruit trees, and raises their awareness of their immediate environment. You’ll also be able to watch the tree go through its annual life cycle as you walk by at different times of the year. You and your family may even know of publicly accessible plants that aren’t showing up on the map. In that case, feel free to add to the knowledge base and tell the world about your local trees, it only takes a couple of clicks. Even a preteen mobile device addict is going to enjoy that!
The Falling Fruit team recommend that you read this guide to the ethics of harvesting urban edibles before heading out on a mission. Asking permission is especially important for trees near private property. But once you and your children have harvested your local bounty, you can get busy making jellies and pies, freezing and drying fruit, and sharing your windfall with neighbors (giving some jelly or preserves to anyone who gave you permission to pick is an especially good idea). It’s a fun way to teach your child about where their food comes from and how many resources there are at our fingertips, if only we know where to look.