Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Guerilla Grafting: Turning Ordinary Trees into Fruit Bearing Trees

There is no reason for anyone living in a temperate or tropical climate to go hungry. Life is ubiquitous on the planet's surface. And it is getting easier to program non-food bio-life into food. This story is about something more ordinary and less futuristic than genetic programming, although in the near future it will be possible to program plants to make just about anything you might want, in the way of food or chemistry.

In San Francisco, a group of renegade agriculturalists called Guerrilla Grafters are...grafting fruit-bearing branches onto public trees that otherwise don’t bear fruit. The group has created a web app to help locals find trees that might be good candidates for a new, fruit-bearing branches and provides tips on how to pull off a successful grafting. They also have a Facebook page where they report on upcoming events and track the progress of their cherry and pear grafts.

...What makes them guerrillas is the fact that this grafting is illegal. As the group’s Tara Hui explains, “people think of fruit trees as kind of a nuisance.” That’s both because of the mess they might create in the form of rotten fruit and the vermin they might attract in the form of rats. Depending on the species you’re using, grafting might also run afoul of patent law. The Guerrilla Grafters address the first two problems by making sure each grafted tree has a “steward” who can monitor and take care of it.

Guerrilla grafting might be seen as another branch (ahem) of a diverse and burgeoning movement to bring nature--and its bounty--into the urban environment. The practice of guerrilla gardening (first popularized, perhaps, by a certain John “Appleseed” Chapman in Ohio in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) has attracted a lot of media attention in the last five years, and local organizations have proliferated. The related ideas of urban gleaning, urban agriculture, urban aquaculture, and vertical farming also seem to be gaining momentum. _Fast Coexist
Here is a useful tutorial on fruit tree grafting from the University of Minnesota extension

Guerilla grafting is just a variation on guerilla permaculture. Permaculture is the process of converting ordinary environments into ubiquitous, aesthetically pleasing gardens. With healthy food always at our fingertips, why go hungry?


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