Please do stay tuned for the Berkeley Art Museum Jam Exchange, which is to take place on 7 June, and is free and open to the public. The jam exchange is part of a larger event called Localize! Environmental Activism at the Grassroots. For those of you who have recently stumbled upon this project, I’d like to give an updated synopsis of it, so that all is clear.
Forage Oakland is a backyard barter network that gathers North Oaklanders around the shared community asset of surplus fruit. Anyone who lives in neighborhoods in North Oakland or South Berkeley is free to join the project and barter their excess fruit with their neighbors in North Oakland and South Berkeley. Exchanges are made with said neighbors, sometimes instantly, but more often, inter-seasonal exchanges are made, i.e. a harvest of hachiya persimmons in the late autumn for the promise of Santa Rosa plums come summer. In this way, too, one becomes increasingly aware of what fruits are in season when, and this knowledge will hopefully encourage one to really develop an understanding of how eating within the seasons can address a handful of issues in one go.
Forage Oakland is a barter project, which means fruit is never sold or harvested under any dubious circumstances. An apple is an apple, and an apple will be bartered for, possibly, a pear.
Ultimately, Forage Oakland should be a project that can sustain itself, having spent time establishing a foundation and a network of committed and loyal Oaklanders who posit themselves within this little movement, and who will be quite glad to gather a handful of harvesters and glean an orange tree, say. Said oranges can then be redistributed within the neighborhood. Eventually, Forage Oakland’s membership will be open to fruit tree owners and non-fruit tree owners alike, with non-fruit tree owners being able to contribute in other ways. For example an offer of making Forage Oakland deliveries can result in an exchange of fresh, sun-warmed blackberries.
My hope is that Forage Oakland can become a project that situates itself in the neighborhood in a way that allows it to flourish even after my departure. No one will need to be at the helm, so to speak, rather a committed group of Oaklanders will ensure its survival.
Here are tentative ideas I’ve had regarding the development of Forage Oakland:
Fruit Tree Steward Project: a collaborative neighborhood fruit tree planting project involving students, residents of a given neighborhood and possibly funding from the City of Oakland to plant fruit trees.
Mobile Fruit Tree Cart: Following the gleaning for a prolific fruit tree, the mobile fruit tree cart will deliver fresh fruit to anyone in the neighborhood who’d like to receive it. There is small grant to make this project a reality.
A regular Forage Oakland public event will take place each month now, so please do stay tuned for May’s event. The calendar is not up quite yet, but it should be up soon enough.