When Tara Hui realized the residents of her San Francisco neighborhood could use some fresh produce, she decided to take the problem upon herself. The streets are lined with pear, apple, and plum trees that are “sterile” – meaning they don’t bear fruit – so Tara began grafting fruit-bearing branches onto them to give locals some free and easily accessible produce.
“I tried to advocate for planting productive trees, making my neighborhood useful, so people could have free access to at least fruit,” she told the LA Times. “I just wasn’t getting anywhere.”
She started doing this about two years ago, and has turned the project into a group of “Guerrilla Grafters” who secretly add fruit branches to trees. The only problem is that San Francisco city officials say the group is breaking the law, despite plenty of praise from locals and urban agriculture enthusiasts.
All you have to do is make a slit with a knife in a branch on a host tree, insert a branch from a fruit-bearing tree, and secure it with tape. The branch eventually becomes part of the tree and will start growing fruit.
The group does not share where their work is located for fear of removal by the city, but color-coded electrical tape is used to mark trees that have been grafted.
It doesn’t sound like much of a radical act, but it’s a symbolic way to stress the importance of providing free and accessible fresh food for anyone. You would think that wouldn’t be a problem since we can just, you know, grow it in the ground, but the group motto – “undoing civilization one branch at a time” – is the perfect depiction of why that is easier said than done. It will be nice to see the day when city officials care as much about providing trees full of food as they do about vanity.
Image CC licensed by Alessio Maffeis