By Cynthia Ruzzi, President Sustainable Danville Area

When I was young I walked to school.  Every day seemed like an exploration, especially when passing the front yards of two special neighbors.  They welcomed school kids encouraging us to pick apples in the fall, and strawberries in spring and carrots almost year round.  The amazing thing is I didn’t grow up in a rural community in California where the sun is plentiful and the earth easily bears sweet bounty – I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

Wanting to ‘pay forward’ these wonderful memories I have planted three heirloom apple trees in my front yard. While experts advised me that the trees would not bear fruit for passing school kids for at least three years, I was delighted recently to find three golf ball sized apples growing on one of those baby trees. I can’t wait for apples grown for taste and not commercial criteria such as ease of shipping, uniform harvest times and long shelf-life.

Did you know one mature fruit tree can produce 100-500 pounds of fruit annually?  With only a handful of apples this year, the neighborhood kids may have to plan other snacks for fall.  I plan to keep the trees trimmed between 6-8 feet which will reduce fruit production, but make it easier to pick the fruit.  Even at this size, I’m sure to have plenty organically tended, nourishing fruit that is chemical-free, safe to eat and family healthy and I’ll avoid the high premium of store-bought organic fruit.

Planting a tree is also one of the best ways to help the environment because trees sequester carbon from the air and into the soil.  One tree can process up to a ton of carbon in its lifetime!  Fruit trees condition the soil, provide shade, attract pollinators to your garden, provide wonderful compost material when their leaves drop in the fall, and are a fun and rewarding way to cut your carbon footprint by eating local.  And did I mention that even with the trees limited to 6 feet, I expect to have more than enough apples for my family, neighbors and passing school kids?

Growing your own fruit trees is a great way to help the less fortunate providing a flavorful, healthy alternative to usual processed, canned foods available at a shelter or food bank.   Sustainable Danville Area, in collaboration with The Urban Farmers ( are kicking off a community based effort to glean (pick) unwanted fruit from local home gardens and backyards. The fruit is then delivered to the local food pantries so it can be distributed to needy people in the community. In the summer of 2010, thanks to Eagle Scout Drew Holland with the help of friends and family, Lafayette donated over 1,400 pounds of fruit to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.  What can we achieve if we connect in our community to stem local hunger?

Siamack Sioshansi (in orange jacket) and The Urban Farmers volunteers.

Whether or not you have fruit trees, we invite you to learn more about our community fruit gleaning project. There are many ways you can help and have fun with friends and family doing it – picking fruit is just one of them.  Spend the evening with us at Sustainable Danville Area’s July forum when we launch our Alamo / Danville community fruit gleaning project.  Our guest speaker, Siamack Sioshansi, founder of The Urban Farmers, is a true urban farmer that will help us understand why we need to change our food system and how together we can help others enjoy healthy, whole food.

Peace Lutheran, 3201 Camino Tassajara, Danville have graciously lent us space for this month’s forum on Wednesday, July 11th 6:45 pm.  

Want to register your fruit trees for pick-up or volunteer in another way?  Then don’t wait until the forum, click here to visit The Urban Farmers

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News

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2 responses to “COME PICK MY FRUIT – PLEASE.

  1. Reblogged this on corydegregorio and commented:
    Great article regarding urban farming.

  2. Thanks Cory – We can make a great impact to getting our children more in touch with whole, unprocessed food and help lower local hunger if we all use a little of our yard, courtyard or balcony to grow some veggies or fruit.