As you've probably noticed, there's a plenitude of fruit trees scattered throughout Bend.
Many of trees were planted with care and are lovingly looked after by the renters/homeowners who live on the property. Others grow untended on vacant lots or on public lands. Those who are fortunate enough to have fruit-bearing plum trees, apple trees and pear trees, the most common fruit trees in Central Oregon, often pick the delectable treats and put them to good use—plum sauces, apple pies, pear salads—just a few of the hundreds of ways one can enjoy the fruits found in Central Oregon.
But what about those neglected trees whose fruit falls to waste? That's where you come in—with your backpack and your manners.
Gleaning is gathering produce left by others and is considered by its practitioners to be an effective way to mitigate food waste. You can donate the food to a food bank or use it for your own consumption. We hear there's a Central Oregon Gleaners gang in town which gathers forgotten fruit, but because of their secretive nature we weren't able to track them down for comment.
Come early fall, a great Bend game is guerrilla fruit harvesting. It's a fun, tasty and socially responsible activity. Here's how:
- Travel by bike (you can walk, but it's hard to cover a lot of ground) with a backpack and a buddy.
- Keep a lookout for apple trees, pear trees and plum trees (big shrubs, really).
- Once located, assess whether the tree is on public land or private property. If it's on private property, you should attempt to ask permission from the homeowner. Be friendly and considerate you'll often be allowed to pick freely.
- Trees with branches that fall over the property line are fair game, sorta. While you should still be respectful, picking at night may be the way to go. Same goes for those fruit trees that are clearly neglected. If you've tried to ask permission and haven't been able to raise the homeowner, maybe you should consider a covert mission. Do so at your own risk—this is not a Source endorsed practice, though it can be effective.
- With your bounty secured, fire up the interwebs and search for clever ways to use you harvest!
This year I missed my window. We were hoping to run a full Culture story, complete with pictures, venn diagrams, pie charts and the like, but we kept writing other awesome stories that seemed more timely and urban fruit harvesting kept getting bumped.
When I went out at the end of last week in search of a few hearty trees, I found only a precious few. And after talking to our farming friends I discovered that any fruit still on the trees wouldn't be much good anyway, given the handful of frosts that have already fallen on Bend.
"Once it freezes all the apples are all crap," said one local farmer. "They get super mushy because all the moisture inside them freezes, it's more of texture thing."
Well, shoot. We'll try again next year. And so should you.