The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Ornamental City Trees…

The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Ornamental City Trees...

There is a group of fruit lovers in San Francisco that practice something known as “guerrilla grafting” –  they graft fruit bearing branches onto fruitless, ornamental trees across the Bay Area city. Having access to free fruit sounds like a wonderful idea, considering the number of homeless people who can rarely afford a decent meal, but guerrilla grafting is actually illegal.

In many metropolitan areas, urban foresters make sure that flowering fruit trees don’t bear any fruit, in order to keep fallen fruit from making a mess on sidewalks and attracting vermin. Most public trees are fruitless, a fact that the Guerilla Grafters obviously don’t like. While authorities see urban fruit-bearing trees as a nuisance, these agricultural rebels see them as an opportunity to provide fresh, healthy produce for free to anyone who walks by.

According to their Facebook page, “Guerrilla Grafters is a grassroots group that sees a missed opportunity for cities to provide a peach or a pear to anyone strolling by. Their objective is to restore sterile city trees into fruit-bearers by grafting branches from fertile trees. The project may not resolve food scarcity, but it helps foster a habitat that sustains us.” Their mission, they say is to make delicious, nutritious fruit available to urban residents through these grafts…



The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Ornamental City Trees...

As noble as their intentions may seem to most of us, guerrilla grafting is illegal and classified as vandalism by San Francisco’s Department of Public Works. It doesn’t matter who plants the tree, who grafts branches, or who maintains it, if it’s on a sidewalk, it’s publicly owned and messing with it is a crime. But as of 2012, the department did not plan to actively pursue grafters. “Unless someone is caught in the act, there’s not much we could do,” said spokesperson Gloria Chan, adding that it is hard to catch because the average person doesn’t know what an illegal graft looks like so it’s not likely to get reported.

However, some people seem to think guerrilla grafting is a very serious problem. “It gets very dangerous very quickly,” said Carla Short, an urban forester for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. “I mean the minute that fruit gets crushed on the sidewalk, it is slippery. We certainly don’t want people to get injured.”…

The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Ornamental City Trees...

But the law isn’t a deterrent for these urban gardeners, who seem quite focused on their mission. “People think of fruit trees as a kind of a nuisance,” said Tara Hui, member of the group since its inception five years ago. “The intention of doing guerrilla grafting is not so much for the sake of challenging authority, but to set an example – a working example – to counter the arguments. If we have a prototype, we can have a legitimate rational discussion on the issue.” Plus, every grafted tree has a steward, someone who promises to check up on it regularly, making sure it doesn’t cause any problems.

She added that many fruit lovers did try to follow “legal channels” at first – she wanted to plant a fruit tree in front of her house and was fully prepared to care for it herself. But her efforts were repeatedly thwarted by the department and by San Francisco nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest. So she began connecting with other frustrated residents who wanted fruit trees and they started using social media to delve into underground channels…

The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches Onto Ornamental City Trees...

The grafters like to think of their activities as ‘hybrid farming’ or ‘street theater’ and believe that their efforts don’t pose threats like slip hazards from fallen fruit or damage to the host trees. “With grafts, you only have a few branches that are fruit bearing, and it’s really very manageable,” said guerrilla grafter Miriam Goldberg. And they take full responsibility to make sure that ripe fruits are safely harvested. They’re also prepared to help with maintenance tasks like pruning, propping, and watering.

“The hope is that through this one small act (of grafting) we can reconnect with a shared space and reconnect with each other,” Hui said. “Ultimately, I think codes and regulations should respond to the reality of people’s lives. Just taking an evening stroll, and then you see a fruit and you reach over and now you’re nourished.”…

Guerrilla grafters have created a web app to provide grafting tips and help members find trees that might be good candidates to accept fruit-bearing branches. Through their Facebook page they track the progress of their cherry, plum, and pear grafts, and report upcoming events (via OddityCentral).

If you like this idea, be sure to share it with your friends and inspire someone you know. Anything becomes possible with just a little inspiration…

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(105) comments

Maybe next year for your project Xenifon Gargatzidis

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That’s a great ideal, modern day Johnny appleseed

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Haha rus I was going to tag you in this and looked … Duh Russ T Cans

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ornamental fruit trees have got to be one of the dumbest things thought up by man.

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    OK, think about this for a moment: the fruitless ones still have beautiful flowers in the spring, but no dropping, rotting fruit for the city to clean up…or you, if you have a yard. Not the dumbest thing by any stretch of the imagination.

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    I agree with Mary Guibert. And maybe people won’t eat it but animals do. Me personaly when ever I see fruit in public I eat it. Im mexican I was thought how to identify eatible fruit.

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Michael Wilson

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And the inevitable fruit fly problem will be dealt with by whom?

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    Wow man…your glass is half empty.. Isn’t it? 🙂

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    No, his glass is fine as he raises a valid point. Street and backyard fruit trees act as corridors for fruit fly which, if they get into your major fruit growing areas, will decimate the industry and its export status. You will then be importing all your fruit at higher prices !!!!!!!!!

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I read a article asking why they don’t switch these for fruit trees so no one would go hungry. The answers were the wildlife they would attract with them, added costs for clean up of fallen rotting fruit, and a few others but I can’t remember all of them.

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Yes this is great 🙂

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Ping Irene Eriksson.

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How interesting!

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This is what all cities should do

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Street and backyard fruit trees act as corridors for fruit fly which, if they get into your major fruit growing areas, will decimate the industry and its export status. You will then be importing all your fruit at higher prices !!!!!!!!! Not such a good idea after all.

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    “decimate the industry and its export status” LMAO!!!

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    Maybe not in Canada, but most other warmer climates, yes. In Australia we have inspectors going around checking, also have fruit fly free zones and you wont LYAO if you get caught even with a tomato sandwich in your car as it is an ‘on the spot fine’. Takes the smile off your face quick.

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    Man, even the fruit flies try to kill you in Australia.

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    How do you eat food in those zones?

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    Laura Guest the zones are in the major fruit growing areas and so they are a bit like a quarantined area. You cannot pass through with any fruit that has not been grown in that area. Any fruit within the area is grown there, or, is brought in from another certified fruit fly free zone. Imported fruit also has to come from a certified fruit fly free zone And Californian grown peaches, nectarines, grapes, etc. are for sale in the supermarkets here in our offseason, but must come from US certifield areas. We also export, hence the need for these regulations. California is a major US Exporter of fresh produce so having uncontrolled planting/grafting of fruit trees compromises that status.

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Which leads to an explosion in the rat population. #greatjob

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Ok,how about trees beneficial to bees? Prolific flowering trees like linden,basswood and …

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More Guerilla Gardening, especially of the edible variety. I’m sure the world would be a happier place with a little less concrete and bricks and a little more flowers and leaves.
Might plant a herb on my local roundabout.

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Oh yeah we hate fruit flies and rats and since we are accomodated enough to be complaining about it behind our smart phones, who cares if someone needs the free food? That will never be me will it.

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Kimberly Jackson

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“If it’s on the sidewalk it is publicly owned. ” but the public are not allowed to mess with it.

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As long as you maintain them. Fruit trees can be a bugger.

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Rhianne Rosen this!

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Love it. Do it everywhere.

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I don’t know how “legal’ this is…. but it is far more “moral” than cities arbitrarily deciding to spend our confiscated paychecks ( tax dollars and “federal funding”) to plant trees which are strictly ornamental. Yes, I agree that any tree is a good tree — except maybe salt cedars— but I still like this idea.

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You can graft different types of apples on any apple tree, but you can’t graft them on another type of tree (like cherry).

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I think the idea is brilliant only concern for me is what if the tree used is poisonous will it make the fruit harmful to people.

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Sounds like GMO spookery to me!

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    Which makes you a silly Swede. Peope have grafted trees for centuries without any harm. You are not changing DNA.

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    Sarcasm seldom comes across well on the web, but I appreciate the sentiment Sandy. I have a feeling that the same act done in a lab would have drawn immediate ire.

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    Richard Ash Berglind well you’d be wrong because grafting is grafting nothing else !

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    and look like an idiot or paid by the gmo companies

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One problem you must always be aware of is the soil in which food bearing plants are growing. If the soil around a tree is contaminated with lead etc from fuel and paint, then you should consider that the fruit may well contain high levels of the contaminants. In NZ there was a campaign recently to make people who keep urban chickens, aware of the fact that the eggs of their chooks will contain high levels of lead if the chooks are feeding from soil and gardens that have been contaminated by old lead based paints.

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    one thing that quite blows me away whilst in s.f is the abundant population of many species of butterfly, bees, hummigbirds and birds generally, I guess that doesnt make foods more edible but some nature balance is working

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    That’s cool Kym… providing an urban village for creatures other than people is really important…and lovely. It’s why I try hard to grow a lot of flowers in our front garden.

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    snails rise to a standing ovation for J.P 🙂

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    Snails in my garden often develop a problem with Thrush… when there are no cats around that is.

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    Just like all the food in the supermarket then…

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    can you test soil easily before you graft?

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Liam Abbott… should we do some Dr green thumb grafting xD

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Yeay…fruit bearing plants should be every where for everyone..they don’t do this in an effort to keep money going to profit the large corporations…keep up the good work 🙂

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Soo cool ??love this x

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Well when your taxes get raised because people are slipping on the side walks and the wasps and rotting fruit are the new Street decor or falling fruit dents your new car you may be singing a different verse.

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    More good can be done then dad…why not try?

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    Why not try getting rid of totalitarian fascist globalist agenda 21/30 Collectivism and the likes of Obama and Trudeau and Scientism and start teaching the blessing of Abraham once more and stop letting sin rule the world and become a prosperous nation once more instead of a propaganda compliant one.

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    Whoa. Too much crazy right there!

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    There is a reason fruit-bearing trees are no planted along sidewalks. Deborah, above, has mentioned one. Another is the bees attracted to fallen fruit.

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    The Aramaic uses a word that is related linguistically to the name Noah, who was symbolically “resurrected” from the flood as the life-giver to those who re-populated the earth. Resurrection is superior to life, for life can be defeated and ended. But resurrection overcomes. Life is the power to exist, but resurrection is the power to conquer all, even death itself.

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    For crying out loud. Really?? That against hunger?
    No wonder the world is messed up.

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    ?????????? Seriously?

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    Stacie Bird so true. blessings of Abraham? let’s sacrifice 45 to God to show our devotion

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    Debbrah Elizabeth Buyers, I am seeing some of us are more drawn to concrete and glass and some of us miss the nature that is getting less and less in city centers (Toronto for one!!! — down with the old, you can’t have too many condos (or tax revenue) and density in a small area!). I believe in bringing more nature and shade back into the cities. I think gardens and the land is still very much in our psyches, and as the density grows and we start to rub and agitate on one another trying to move about in our daily lives we may start to react — I wonder if there is a little locust in ea of us? I definitely feel it from time to time, but to have more garden beauty and interesting grafting about would be a joy to my eyes.

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    So PICK THE FUCKING FRUIT BEFORE IT GOES BAD!!!!!!

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    Wow. What would Jesus say to that?

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    They are grafting a BRANCH! Not an entire fruit tree!

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    Kenneth Barrow Our bees need all the help they can get, we are dead without them. What is wrong with bees?

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    I have to surmise that you all would be out there picking the fruit on the trees and cleaning the streets while the trees are buzzing with hornets… no one disagrees with parks or even farms in the downtown do they? Of course you then have to deal with farm smells and big slow farm equipment and by the way do you remember when Mary poured the expensive perfume over Jesus and Judas Iscariot was upset that the money from the sale of it could be used for the poor. Well the Creator of the Universe did not come into agreement with Judas. So there are good ideas and God ideas and they are not necessarily the same thing. Just because you think it is a good idea from your rocking chair does not mean it is in reality.

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    Oh and it is only one branch then why do it all and put the original tree at risk….the entire idea from start to finish is absurd.

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    Steve Price You and Kristine have a lot of work to do.

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    the train just left crazy town!!!!

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Have you got any advice on what flowering plants or herbs (like lavender) I could plant at the base of street trees in London? I have no clue and want to make my street a little prettier. Thanks

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    Lavender, nasturtium, petunias, pansies, gerberas, salvias, freesias, well…any bulbs. Add garlic and marigolds for bug deterrents. Mint, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, chives.

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    Monique Sporri great thank you!

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    Marigolds! They are lovely and they reseed themselves if you crumble the dried blossoms.

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    Debra Howe great thanks

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    Rosemary – especially prostrate Rosemary might be suitable in some situations… Or the bush variety might also be suitable. It cannot only be useful as a herb, it is very hardy, Evergreen, and when it flowers the flowers are pretty little purple ones… I have often seen it used in Street plantings successfully and it is so hard I saw it growing wild clinging to Rocky outcrops in the north of Spain when I walked the Camino.

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    Parsley can also be a nice plant for Street plantings – and it will reseed easily if allowed to go to seed. It is so “pretty” like something you would plant for the flowers. But it can make for a very attractive soft green covering and a nice backdrop for flowers.

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    Kerry Dawborn great I love rosemary

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Brilliant idea!!

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More complete rubbish from this fake news site. I worked in the nursery business for 15 years after horticultural college. First you can only graft onto the same kind of tree. Second you need to do it with very carefully chosen scion stock. Third, only for a couple of weeks in the year. Fourth, it is a skill art to get them to succeed. This just does not work.

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I love the idea – guerrilla gardening/grafting, but if the soil might be contaminated is there an easy way to test it. also a note to say do not throw butts near plants etc.

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Just plant fruit trees..in Guinea West Africa mangoe trees are planted along the streets and all over the place. I can tell you nothing goes to waste during mangoe season

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You can’t graft apples onto a maple tree.

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Can the ficus tree support the grafting of fruit bearing plants ? I have 200 ficus making a natural boundary on my roof garden ? Love to know!

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There are reason fruit bearing trees are not planted in those locations. Fruit require clean-up, can be a slip and fall hazard , and atracks bees (stinging insect). This is one of the most ludicrous posts ECOSNIPPETS has posted.

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Can’t wait for the lawsuits from people sick from fruit tainted by dirty city air and water and psycho idiots lacing it with bad stuff.
Nice thought though but people are assholes

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Good idea, but they should make sure it’s legal.

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Did they think about exaust fumes? Nice idea though.

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City trees are purposely chosen to avoid liability. Fruit and nut bearing trees can damage property and cause health and injury risks.

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The population has dumbed down and become so egotistical. When people slip and fall on the rotten fruit on the sidewalk they should be sued.

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Sadly not legal so not brilliant.

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