In SF, Guerrilla Grafters Remix Urban Farming

"It's like the gardener's version of graffiti," says one. In San Francisco, activists hope to transform once-purely ornamental street trees into fruit-bearing ones, to provide fresh fruit to the local community.
September 13, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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In the Bay Area, with the help of some DIY activists, urban agriculture is expanding out of vacant lots and backyards, and into the parkway. As 'urban orchards' grow in favor and practice in several U.S. cities, guerrilla grafters in San Francisco are taking urban orchard-ing into their own hands, by 'splicing' existing ornamental trees with fruit-bearing ones. Supporters hope to expand access to fresh fruit across the city.

"First a slit is made in the host tree," writes Los Angeles Times' Maria L. La Ganga about the splicing technique. "Then the alien branch is whittled into a pointed wedge. The grafter inserts the wedge and matches up the elements' nutrient-transporting layers before securing the area with tape."

But not all are happy about the guerrilla tree reclamation effort. San Francisco, like many cities, doesn't allow fruit trees in parkways, "fearing the mess, the rodents and the lawsuits that might follow," writes La Ganga. Stilll, the fruit tree-lovers may find hope in the fact that city tree crews have not "formally" removed any of the group's tree grafts, allowing the activists to continue their crusade.

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Published on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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