Urban scrumping

It’s not something many of us have experienced – picking fruit straight from the source and digging in. I remember blueberries and strawberries, fresh from the plant. Oh sure, I had to pick a few boxes as well, but I was always gently reminded that my parents did the same thing every Summer for a pack lunch and an ice cream. Also, the sun was only two miles off the ground and school was uphill both ways. But I think I’m digressing. Yes. Yes, I am.

The point is, fresh anything, as the ads tell us, is better – only, we’re very disconnected from fresh. But not entirely, if you know where to look. As pictured, Vancouver has a lot of blackberry bushes growing out to where any sidewalk pedestrian can get at them. The photo is just off of 12th ave West, but I remember one massive bush that was slowly taking over an empty lot where Georgia twisted into the park – every Summer, people would appear in the evenings with Tupperware to gather a bounty.

I’ve heard of kiwi trees successfully growing in backyards. Lemon trees. Figs. Rhubarb. Apples. Oranges. And so on. This is Vancouver. With a little work, most anything will flourish.

LA has a by-law that says anything hanging out into the sidewalks and streets are fair game to all, resulting in online maps of where to find what. And maps of where to find what if you were brave enough to trespass. And I wonder – how many Vancouverites have take advantage of the climate? Anybody gather some freebie succulents? Any one gained from having a neighbour with a flourishing tree of something? Any surprise fruits out there you wouldn’t think could grow here?

5 Comments so far

  1. Ryan Cousineau (van_ryan) on August 19th, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    Blackerries are so easy to find it barely qualifies as sport. A guy I was talking to yesterday swears he found wild blueberries somewhere in Port Moody, and thanks to one neighbor’s expansionist specimen, we now have the start of a banana tree growing on our side of the fence.

    Crab apples in another neighbor’s yard, and crab apple jelly is surprisingly interesting.

    One relatively common but overlooked wild edible is Salal berries. Even I have passed these by, previously assuming they were inedible.

  2. castewar on August 19th, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

    I think Canada was miles of tangled blackberry bushes until everybody started hacking away – when the world ends, the bushes will rise again!

    Apple jelly is awesome – I have friends that have grape vines and their red grape jelly is amazing!

  3. Ryan Cousineau (van_ryan) on August 20th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    The most common blackberries around are an invasive species (Himalayan Blackberries, rubus armeniacus (aka rubus discolor?)). There is a native blackberry species (rubus ursinus) but it has been wildly outcompeted by the interloper, and I have only seen bushes I believed to be r. ursinus twice.

  4. mach1 on August 22nd, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

    Well this sure is serpenditiously delicious. Blogging, okay-writing
    from Prince George home of ice jams, burning saw mills and disgraced police chiefs….I ventured mildly far from home to an organic farm
    and sampled just today for the first time: yellow raspberries.

    Positively delightful. A great reminder on how far we are away
    we can get from our food sources from nature to grower to can/jar to grocer
    to cupboard,… even if they are in our
    backyard……when really the best things in life are both free
    and in BC….

  5. mach1 on August 23rd, 2008 @ 12:00 am

    serendipitiously ; sorry

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