The Common Good
September/October 2009

The Bounty Next Door

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | September/October 2009

THE IDEA CAME in a dream. One night Kaytea Petro, co-founder of Neighbor-hood Fruit, dreamt she was searching on a Web site for public fruit trees throughout San Francisco.

THE IDEA CAME in a dream. One night Kaytea Petro, co-founder of Neighbor-hood Fruit, dreamt she was searching on a Web site for public fruit trees throughout San Francisco. “Once I realized this site didn’t exist yet, I knew it was a good idea,” Petro told Sojourners. “Everybody likes backyard fruit.”

Today, more than 5,000 trees are registered on the Neighborhood Fruit Web site, a database where people can locate a fruit tree in their community, register fruit trees available for public consumption, or make direct transactions, called “fruitfillments,” in which one user lists their tree to be harvested and another user volunteers to harvest the fruit in exchange for a bag of it.

Gathered produce is also often donated to food pantries and shelters, something they encourage, says Oriana Sarac, Petro’s business partner. “We are looking to level the playing field for different socioeconomic groups by bringing fresh, local produce to them, especially immigrant and lower-income families”—a concept as biblical as it is pragmatic. As it says in Leviticus 19, “You shall not strip your vineyard bare …; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien.”

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