The above image is of an olive harvest that took place early afternoon, 9 November on Shattuck/ Ashby Avenues in South Berkeley. Monica, Britain, and I harvested a small brown bag’s worth of olives, which I will cure. Last night, I spoke with Gordon and Vera who are curing San Francisco foraged olives. This is a first, very experimental, and there’s no way of knowing how delicious these will be, considering they were harvested from a major thoroughfare and such.
This is- in a way- quintessential Forage Oakland. Here I am biking down 55th Street between Telegraph and Shattuck in North Oakland, and you see the shadow of the fruit picker, which has been bound to my bicycle basket and the bike’s cross bar.
Maybe foolishly, I am experimenting with making hoshi gaki in my little office. Here is photo from Day Three. In general, because there is such a vast amount of fruit moving in and out of my house, there is a constant problem with fruit flies. Because of this, hoshi gaki might not work well at my house. I’ve done a bit of research, and it seems like the best climate is a cold, dry place, preferably outside, but inside will work, too. If you have a cellar that is not susceptible to fruit flies, and you have the patience to massage hachiya persimmons four times weekly for about four weeks, please tell me.
On Saturday, 1 November, Maria and I trekked to Yerba Buena to participate in Fallen Fruit’s Public Jam, which is all part of the larger exhibit, The Gatherers. The jam making was totally participatory, and anyone was invited to bring backyard or store-bought fruit and join a table to make a communal jam. This photo showcases warren pears, fuyu persimmons, tamarillos, and dried fennel seeds.
In the end, Maria, Lynn, several others, and I decided upon warren pear-fennel-meyer lemon jam. I have no idea if this combination worked; it was just a hunch and an idea. Unfortunately, I could only stay for the prepping because I had to work that evening. It was excellent, though, to meet the guys behind Fallen Fruit.
There is a hachiya persimmon tree that I am truly in love with, and it is on my bike route home from work, and just around the block from my old house in Lower Rockridge. Finally, after admiring this tree from afar for the past two years, I left a note for the people who live in the house, and the dialogue that ensued was more hopeful and promising than I ever could have imagined. The lady of the house called me at work, as I requested and amidst the hullabaloo, we had a beautiful conversation about what I was really hoping to convey in the Manifesto that I wrote about two weeks back. I expressed my desire to build a community of people who care for and know one another; a community of people who rather share their fallen fruit with their neighbors than horde the un-needed excess for the mere sake of hording (which has somehow come to be totally acceptable and valid– excess/ other-wise wasted fruit as personal property, and can thus be rightly hoarded). She told me that when she first moved to California, she fell in love (much like myself) with the persimmon, and she thought if she ever planted a fruit tree, it would be a persimmon tree. Now, years later, she has a bountiful hachiya tree that graces her Lower Rockridge street in the dead of December, its orange fruit literally gleaming in the winter sun. The tree- by this point- is totally leafless and the fruit hangs like ornaments. Every year, the fruit from this persimmon tree is shared with neighbors and friends- either used to make persimmon pudding or the persimmons are dried. The lady of the house said the fruit is very rarely left to rot, which is the unfortunate fate of many hachiyas. I love the story of this tree, the bounty it produces, and the lessons that can be translated to other aspects of life in the city. The woman went on to tell me that she, too, loves pineapple guava and turned me on to a spot in the neighborhood where there are abandoned trees. I promised her grapefruit later this season. There was so much I needed to say on the telephone this afternoon, talking behind the bar to this woman, wanting to reach over and tell her that small conversations like this one are very sustaining and give me hope that what I expressed in the Manifesto, the idealistic barter and shared urban lifestyle, are all- obviously- possible. So, thank you.
This photo in no way does justice to the little pile of fruit that I left for Gordon and Vera last night. This is what I brought them, in exchange for at least three dozen pounds of wild plums this past late spring:
6 fuyu persimmons
6 warren pears
a pile of pineapple guava
a bottle of plum syrup, made from their plums
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project thus far.