KPCC in Southern California has a great piece this week on the activities of the Los Angeles-based group Fallen Fruit. Co-Founded by artists David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young, and operating on the old common law idea that taking fruit from the branches of trees overhanging public spaces (sidewalks, alleys, roadways) is not theft, Fallen Fruit has been producing Fruit Maps of Los Angeles neighborhoods. Rather than using precise google maps, Fallen Fruit prefers to offer the public hand drawn ones which encourage exploration, and they have removed trees from these maps on the few occasions when a specific property owner has complained. The practice of gleaning fruit from roadside trees has a long history in the United States, and in fact well into the 19th century, most states consider it no more than petty trespass for a hungry traveler to enter a private orchard and pluck some fruit to refresh them. As orchards were so abundant that much fruit was left to rot on the ground, most Americans understood helping themselves to someone else’s fruit a harmless act.
Fruit mapping is just one of the collective’s many projects, which include the recently planted public fruit park in Del Aire. Check out a slide show of Anthony Young and Tess Vigeland gleaning overhanging fruit and listen to the interview. Find more of their fruit maps here.