When thinking about Sunset Boulevard or Downtown Los Angeles, fresh fruit typically wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind.
But Hidden within the streets full of bustling cars and Hollywood stars, are trees full of natures sweet gift, fruit. But because it’s growing on public properties, much of it goes to waste.
Reporter Jennifer Quinonez meets 3 friends, David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young who’ve found a way to bring neighborhood communities together, and prevent fresh, organic, free fruit from being wasted on the streets of L.A.
Guided by hand written maps, clad in matching jumpsuits and helmets, Matias and David push an old shopping cart carrying loquats, figs, avocados and lemons picked from the sidewalk. “Fallen Fruit” is what they call their tours that educate the public about eating local and free, finding fruit that you can’t buy in the store and creating a close bond with neighbors.
Part of Fallen Fruit’s claim to fame is what they then do with the fruit once it’s picked–they make homemade jam and teach others how to make it from the fruit at their “Community Jams.”
You’ll also, meet Margie Schnibbe, who has been greatly inspired after attending a Fallen Fruit tour in her neighborhood. She brought an apricot tree back to life and turned her trashy front yard into a beautiful garden as a result.
Public Fruit Jam
Join Fallen Fruit in a collaborative event in which the citizens come together for a communal jam making session. Bring along your home-grown or public fruit and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone will leave with a jar of communal jam. If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Pots of fun for all!
The kinds of jam we make will improvise on the fruit that the participants provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen Fruit will bring public fruit. We are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil guava or lemon pepper jelly. We’ll discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, the aesthetics of sweetness, as well as the communal power of shared food and the liberation of public fruit.
As a performance event, this piece is about collaboration on multiple levels: Fallen Fruit's collaboration with the public, the participant's collaboration with each other, and the long-term collaboration between humans and nature which have produced the type and variety of fruits we now enjoy. If the rituals around food are our first form of culture, we see jam making as a kind jewelry of food: small, sweet and heightened bites. Jams defeat time – they turn something evanescent into something more lasting. The system of exchange and transformation that the jam crystallizes is the symbolic heart of much of Fallen Fruit's work.
Visitors are asked to join jam teams of 3 to 5 people, and to work with people they have not met before. The team negotiates the jams – what kind of fruit and in what proportion. We encourage the teams not to follow recipes but to improvise and collaborate in their effort.
When the jam is done, it is spooned into small, hopefully recycled jars, and the participants take some of their own, leave some for others, and perhaps take a jar of another team's jam. The jam is never for sale; it operates on the model of the gift. The fruit that comes from the public is returned to them.