Imagine the streets of Balmain, Rozelle, Lilyfield and Leichhardt lined with trees bursting with lemons, limes, apples, oranges, peaches, pears and plums. Where all the fruit is free and on public land and what’s not on trees hangs from wire fruit fences beautified by growing tomatoes, blueberries and hanging planters tailored for growing fruit in public spaces in both functional and expressive ways. From what I understand, that’s how it used to be in the colony of Sydney before fruit became a commodity and a privately owned food source.
Yes, it’s inevitable that fruit will fall to the ground and will need to be regularly tended and, yes, the fruit may be taken by anyone and everyone. But, there will be plenty of fruit to go around.
I see it. Do you?
Don’t let the impression of affluence fool you, many people in our municipality lack the income to purchase enough food for themselves and their family, and are embarrassed by their situation. An increasing number of people are unemployed, disenfranchised, disillusioned and have become invisible to us in the midst of their despair and our own busy lives.
I envision … that available backyard fruit be utilised and shared between neighbours and those less fortunate.
The public accessibility of fruit in our Inner West neighbourhoods would help the poor and the lonely and in the process lead the rest of Australia by example. Consider the joy of tending public fruit trees knowing that you are paying forward a kindness to someone who is in need but does not know how to ask. Everyone is richer for the experience.
I see it. Do you?
The bulk of fruit grown in backyards and in our cities goes to waste, while the fruit we consume is grown in water-intensive orchards far from our homes. I envision, in addition to the proposed abundance of planted public fruit trees, that available backyard fruit be utilised and shared between neighbours and those less fortunate.
Sharing with neighbors is a great way to get to know each other. Join me in creating a future where the food we eat makes use of the abundant fruit growing in our urban environments. Next time you talk to a politician, ask the question: “Why plant non-fruit trees when you can plant fruit trees instead?”
If you know of any public fruit trees or any backyard fruit trees that may be available to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org and help me set up a map of neighborhood fruit that will help us share fruit locally.
The map will eventually live on a new website called thebalmainian.com.
Words: Anny Slater
(Balmain solicitor and founder of the Good Dog! International Film Festival and the Good Dog! Easter Dog Parade – both of which assist local business and contribute to urban renewal).