Colleen Supan
April 13, 2012

grafting a tree limb

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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Guerrilla Grafters is converting city streets into food forests.

Taking the underground gardening movement to a new level, San Francisco-based activist group, Guerrilla Grafters, helps fruit grow — on urban, non-fruit-bearing trees. The ultimate goal is to “turn city streets into food forests.”

There are many public ornamental fruit trees lining the streets of San Francisco, and Guerrilla Grafters wants to change that in order to offer anyone fresh, free fruit. The only problem: It’s illegal in some states due to health and safety codes and possible rat infestations.

According to Tara Hui, one of the founders of Guerilla Grafters, “There are tens of thousands of trees in San Francisco, s that’s a huge resource that we could tap into to provide food.”

Because the group is not often selective about specific varieties, there are a few “confetti trees,” which have multi-colored leaves. For instance, members might graft a fruiting Asian pear limb onto a flowering pear tree. The cross-pollination and cross-propagation experiment usually creates a positive end result, with fruit bursting out of grafted limbs.

Booka Alon, Guerilla Grafters co-founder, says, “There are sometimes people who own homes who’ve had a bad experience, but what we’ve discovered is that, with really good maintenance and stewardship, you can make sure that the rats are kept at bay.”

The group will only graft trees that have stewards who promise to take care of them. They want to change the view many people have that having fruit trees on the sidewalk are dangerous and cause problems.

Guerrilla Grafters’ website also allows you to check out the trees that were grafted and which trees have the ability to be grafted in the future. Grafters can also check in to let people know how their graft is doing.

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