These rebels are grafting “forbidden fruits” onto urban ornamental trees, and cities don't know how to stop them!
A group of food freedom fighters is sneaking out in the middle of the night (and sometimes in broad daylight) grafting fruit-producing branches onto sterile urban trees, specifically bred to bear no fruit.
Known as the “Guerilla Grafters”, their mission is to provide healthy, free food it is most needed - urban food deserts.
Have you ever wondered why none of the trees in big cities produce anything useful, like nuts or fruits? According to Guerilla Grafters, it is because they were created intentionally not to do so.
Urban planners specifically sterile varieties many common fruit trees (apples, pears, plums, cherries) because of their beauty to decorate their streets.
But they don't want to be held responsible for any potentially slippery mess that fallen fruit might create on the city's sidewalks or any animals they might attract (think of bees, birds, squirrels).
You can imagine how quickly wildlife can become a problem in the concrete jungle. But perhaps that is the problem with cities. They are not wild enough. At least that's what the Guerilla Grafters think.
The movement began in 2012 in San Francisco, home to 10,000 fruitless fruit trees.
The group's founder, Tara Hui, tried to use all legal means to get the city to legalize fruit trees, but she got frustrated when she realized it wasn't getting any.
Since then, she has formed a group of dozens of stealthy grafters in the San Francisco Bay area, with thousands of Facebook followers, many of whom have formed graft groups in their own cities.
Grafting branches into trees is like “tongue and groove in carpentry”, explains Hui.
The spliced branches are secured with color-coded electrical tape so that volunteers can monitor the trees and ensure that the fruit is harvested and not wasted.
"Once it heals, it connects," said Hui. "Basically, the branch becomes part of the tree".
And by now, it is too late for the city to do anything about it, the grafters boast.
"It's like the gardener's version of graffiti," Claire Napawan, professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, told the LA Times. "Even if there are doubts about your ability to produce enough food to make a difference ... as a piece of awareness, it is a good idea."