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Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?

THE loquats were ripe and just begging to be picked. But there was a problem. Although the tree was planted on private property, the loaded branches hung over the street.
THE loquats were ripe and just begging to be picked. But there was a problem. Although the tree was planted on private property, the loaded branches hung over the street. Did that make the fruit public property? In the end, with no one around to ask, Asiya Wadud decided the answer was yes. So she added them to a bag already heavy with Meyer lemons picked (with permission) from a yard a few blocks away. Then she headed off to check on some plum trees. It was just another day of urban fruit foraging for Ms. Wadud, one of a growing number of people who looked around their cities, saw trees full of fruit and thought, “Delicious.” A year and a half ago, Ms. Wadud, who studied urban sociology in college and bartended at Chez Panisse, began organizing a little neighborhood fruit exchange called Forage Oakland. She did it as much to build neighborhood relations as to get her hands on some of that fruit. It works simply. A woman with a yard full of lemon trees, say, can share her bounty in exchange for a paper bag full of someone else’s persimmons when they come into season. So far, 200 people have signed up.
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