Posted by: canthold | August 1, 2007

Fruitless Ethics

One of the routes through which I walk my dog in the mornings takes me past quite a few fruit bearing trees. These range from lemons, apples, pears and I think, plums. Considering that my dog ate as many loquats from our tree as he could before the squirrels and birds finished them off, I’m always surprised that he doesn’t scarf the dropped fruit off the ground.

I would really like to bring a sack and gather as many as I can. The people who own the trees do not prune them, nor do they pick them on their own. The trees are over-loaded with fruit. One particular apple tree has so many apples per branch that they’re weighed down. I don’t have the greenest thumb, but even I know that it’s better for the tree to pare down the fruit production. I can’t remember why, though.

The thing is, I can’t bring myself to take the fruit with me because it feels like stealing. It is stealing. This topic was pounded home with an article in the SF Chronicle on the subject. But clearly, this isn’t a case of wanting to swipe some heirloom tomatoes from a well-tended garden, this is a fan of fruit wanting these edibles not to go to waste. The owners don’t want them for themselves or they’d care for their trees. Can’t I just have a few?

I’ve been tempted to knock on the door to ask, but it’s too early in the morning. I’ve also thought of writing a note. But what would I say? How would they reply to me? Should I leave my phone number? I can’t imagine that they’d even take the time. They must be super busy if they can’t even tend their own trees.

The last house that we lived in had an apple tree and a plum tree in the back yard. I was so excited to discover this and couldn’t wait until the trees bore fruit. Unfortunately, the apples only produced on the highest branches and even with a fruit picking pole gatherer, I couldn’t reach. I had plenty of rotten ones on the ground, but fat lot of good that did me. The plum tree only produced three plums the entire season. I didn’t get any of them.

My husband, on the other hand, has great luck. That same house had a giant blackberry bush growing along the entire back fence. He used to pick bowlfuls of them. We don’t have any berry bearing bushes here at this house. This could be a good thing, considering that those bushes are considered weeds and a nuisence to just about everyone else – especially those who don’t eat the rewards.

The worst part of the fruit problem is that I know these folks would probably part with the bounty. I kick myself for not trying to solve this little problem better. I hate to see good food wasted. Since I’m a mom of two very picky eaters, I know all about waste. I solved that problem by getting a dog. Now if only I could get my dog to walk away with a sack of apples…



  1. Simply leave a note with your number or try to walk by at a more “Hey, Neighbor” time of day. I have asked people if I could have fruit, they obviously didn’t want to pick and the answer is always yes. I have 6 plum trees and would love someone to come pick the surplus. Sometimes people will mention that they would like fruit, but don’t offer to come pick. I tell them yes, but they have to pick their own!

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