Urban Foraging, Sour Cherries and Fire Hydrant Corn Fields in NYC

IMG_3170Most people don’t think of agriculture when they think of New York City.

Yet it is astounding how much food is grown in this city, a lot of it that most people aren’t even aware of.  Mulberry and Ginkgo trees are everywhere and the fruit from these trees mostly is only noticed once it’s fallen to the sidewalk and rotting.

Certainly there are a small group urban foragers who are dedicated, motivated and organized to get the goods when the goods are worth getting. Which often times might involve climbing a tree or hoping a fence.  Though in my experience, most of the goods are easily within reach.

Take for example this cherry tree which I saw in Chelsea, it was marginally in a community garden though most of its fruit heavy branches where hanging over the sidewalk for anyone to pick.

I showed restraint, but have to admit that I did momentarily think about coming back late one night and getting enough to make a pie or sour cherry chocolate cake or maybe a simple crumble or maybe enough for all three!IMG_3167Yes I have written about a certain sour cherry tree I used to live around the corner from before, but this is different, really.  This last week I have come across three big old amazingly healthy sour cherry trees covered in fruit.  Here, in one of the biggest cities on the planet, these trees grow unattended, pesticide free and without any intervention from Monsanto.IMG_3164The conclusion I draw from this is that even though it is not possible for urban dwellers to grow all their food – certainly raising animals in the city would be a challenge – we sure could grown a lot more food than we do.  Imagine if all the decorative pear trees that line the streets of Manhattan were replaced by fruit trees? The peach, apple and plum trees in our community garden bear abundant fruit every year, maybe pruned on occasion, but otherwise left to their own devices.

Think of what if would be like to walk down East 12th street in early August and be able to pick a peach off a branch because you felt peckish? Certainly maybe that is a bit utopian as I’m sure some people would be out in the middle of the night with their bushel baskets and ladders.  Still something we, as a city, could figure out.  How to distribute an abundance of produce is not exactly my idea of a problem.

Oh and speaking of Monsanto, I also saw this a few blocks away.IMG_3190A fire hydrant sidewalk crack corn field.

Cities paved over paradise, and ever since paradise has been working its way back.

The possibilities are endless.IMG_3191



About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Urban Foraging, Sour Cherries and Fire Hydrant Corn Fields in NYC

  1. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like too follow you if that would
    be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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