Urban food production is easy, cheap, and fun. A frequent topic on this blog (here, here and here, for example), it can provide healthy food for the community, particularly those who may not already have it. Moreover, cities like Provo already expend resources on community landscaping, meaning planting more fruit trees would be almost free.
So why aren’t we growing more food in our parks and public spaces? Why isn’t urban fruit production a bigger part of the cultural and social environment in Utah?
I don’t know the answer, but my colleague Mark Johnston recently wrote about a man who is making this concept a reality in Provo. According to the article, Loren Boddy goes around picking fruit from his neighbors trees, then distributes it to the community:
During morning runs he once took when living in Springville six years ago, Boddy began noticing how much fruit went unused and ended up rotting beneath the trees in his neighborhood. When he asked, the homeowners were more than happy to let him come and pick all he wanted for himself. Soon he was enjoying fresh grapes, apples, peaches and one year even gathered 50 pounds of cracked walnuts, all for free.
Boddy also apparently uses his connections in the LDS Church to help distribute the produce he gleans.
The story is illuminative for several reasons:
1. It takes a community to supply the various skill sets needed to capitalize on urban fruit production. In other words, urban agriculture works best with a lot of people who share responsibilities and divide labor.
2. Utah communities already have the social structure in place to organize and divide labor to make urban agriculture more viable.
That second point is especially significant. Provo in particular ranks highly for volunteerism, has strong religious and cultural ties, and can grow fruit. In that context, there’s no reason those factors shouldn’t converge into a social effort — however formal or not — to apply urban fruit production for the community good. It seems the only thing lacking is a catalyst.