Falling Fruit helps communities discover and harvest the delicious food growing all around them through collaborative data collection and exchange. Based in Boulder, Colorado, we launched our open-source mapping platform in 2013 (fallingfruit.org) and have since grown to over one million locations in thousands of cities worldwide. We are seeking a grant from the Knight Foundation to support us in expanding our datasets and capacity for public engagement in the United States through a two-year initiative. This initiative involves:
- a large-scale assimilation and interpretation of existing city tree inventories,
- development of new tools and communication strategies to empower city residents to make use of this information, and
- a campaign to promote government participation in the use of existing resources and the cultivation of additional urban edible spaces.
In cities across the United States, untold quantities of edible seeds, leaves, flowers, and fruit grow near-effortlessly, only to decompose on sidewalks. Urban harvesting organizations like Concrete Jungle (Atlanta, Georgia) and Not Far From The Tree (Toronto, Canada) only visit 1–10% of the fruit trees in their city, yet they still harvest tens of thousands of pounds of fruit each year. The urban harvest thus represents a tremendous underused civic asset. Meanwhile, residents drive to supermarkets to buy food imported from around the globe. Not only is this food system environmentally wasteful and a financial burden on poorer residents, it also erodes connections between people, their communities, and the food systems that sustain them.
At Falling Fruit, we use open data to connect people to the abundance that surrounds them, encouraging and empowering residents to explore their neighborhoods, meet new plants, and harvest what would otherwise go to waste. We can then leverage this data to work with local governments, encouraging a revitalized urban vision: of cities that feed and nurture their residents through public and edible urban spaces. With support from the Knight Foundation, we will build on six years of service. This grant will help us integrate new public data, more effectively share that data to a growing user base, ensure that our platform can be accessed by all segments of society, and leverage user engagement to drive municipal transformation towards more resilient and abundant futures.