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What to do with all that fruit…. (or: cool food organizations in Oakland!)

September 9, 2008

Our persimmons are on the verge of ripening, which means it’s time to figure out what on earth to do with the bushels upon bushels that our trees are going to start shedding. Last year we had just moved in and had no idea that two single trees could possibly produce that much fruit. Now that we’ve weathered the persimmon, plum, apple, and loquat harvests, we’re pros at this. And while apples (and applesauce) are easy to give away, persimmons are a little more challenging. Last year I dumped a bunch at work, made our friends eat persimmon cake and persimmon pudding for weeks, froze a few as an experiment, and threw the rest (by which I mean dozens) into the green bin to help with Oakland’s city composting efforts.

This year I’m a bit wiser, and am not planning to attempt to use these all ourselves. Neither of us really likes the hachiya ones except in baked goods, and my noble attempt to freeze lots of puree for wintertime baking really didn’t pan out so well given that in California we get fresh local fruit all year round. Instead, I’m going to have one of these Oakland orgs come out to harvest them and cart them away—though we haven’t decided which yet.

PUEBLO’s Urban Youth Harvest: This program, a joint effort with Cycles of Change (another great local group!), has Oakland youth cycling through the city collecting ripe fruit, which they then donate to low-income seniors in the city. Not only do we get to help provide food for our neighbors, but we also provide jobs for youth and get them excited about sustainable local food and biking. You’d think choosing this would be a no-brainer.

Except….except! There’s also Forage Oakland, a new local project that offers a neighborhood exchange: you give them your edibles, and you get someone else’s edibles. I really like this idea; it reminds me of Portland’s backyard fruit trees project that got neighbors talking with one another as they traded the harvest.

So I’m torn. PUEBLO’s gig sounds like a better choice for benefitting the city overall, but the experimental/artistic vibe of Forage Oakland is compelling too. Of course, we do have two persimmon trees, so maybe we’ll just share the wealth….

Hachiya persimmon

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