Urban Self-Sufficiency, One Crop At a Time

Urban Self-Sufficiency, One Crop At a Time
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Here’s one way to go about making a city more self-sufficient, food-wise:  Start with just one crop. Once you get that one right, move on to the next one.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Friends of the Urban Forest is doing just that:  They are mapping every Meyer lemon tree in the city, with a view to planting enough to meet the city’s entire Meyer lemon needs.  They estimate that a few thousand lemon trees are already in place; 12,000 is the goal.

I just hope they’ve checked with the bartenders and the bakers. 12,000 trees might be enough to supply the city with  Meyer lemon and proseco cocktails, but what are the rest of y’all gonna have?


Posted by

Amy Stewart
on January 11, 2012 at 8:54 am, in the category Drink This, Eat This.


    • Roberta
    • 14th October 2016

    I’ll have pie, please!

    • John
    • 4th November 2016

    Seems like a great idea!

    • admin
    • 7th November 2016

    Here in Bend, Oregon, we have enough fresh (and dried, this time of year) sagebrush for not only our town of 90,000 but (and I’m only guessing here) probably for not just the rest of the USA but also possibly for the entire known universe.

    • Kaviani
    • 13th November 2016

    I’m so jealous. I visited the area last May and was gutted at how effortlessly chamomile and hollyhocks just GREW anywhere, like common dandelions. Unbelievable. I have to offer a few human sacrifices to Chaac Mul on top of weekly seaweed treatments and bi-daily waterings just to keep a rose bush alive a full summer.

    • Laura Bell
    • 14th November 2016

    If only I could get my city to encourage home fruit trees of any sort. Here we are in the heart of California Ag country, and you’d not know it except for the streets name for extinct orchards & ranches.

    • tropaeolum
    • 14th November 2016

    Just wait until a disease or new pest comes through and wipes out the entire lot of ’em.

    • Jason G
    • 15th November 2016
    • Aviaries
    • 15th November 2016

    Brilliant idea! Thanks for the post.

    • Laura S
    • 15th November 2016

    They could do aerial population counts, like a lot of ecologists do. For my locale (metro-east St Louis)I would say- grow kale! It grows nearly year-round here and when it isn’t good (middle of summer) there is plenty of Lamb’s Quarter to substitute. Great idea. Thanks for the post.

    • Urban Artichoke
    • 16th November 2016

    You may be surprised at how popular the Meyer Lemon is as a suburban garden tree in the SF Bay area. I live 40 miles south of SF in Silicon valley and almost everyone seems to have one! We certainly love ours-

    • kallie
    • 16th November 2016

    I have always wanted a lemon tree but I am too scared to plant any trees in my yard. I hear that they have dwarf kinds that you could grow in a pot maybe?

    • Kara
    • 16th November 2016

    I love it! One of my apartments in SF had a Meyer Lemon tree, and I felt a huge responsibility to use all of the lemons…. a girl can only eat so much lemon curd, preserved lemons, and lemon sorbet. That tree was a powerhouse, and produced more lemons than I could use or give away. I had such guilt! I would have loved to contribute those babies to the city’s restaurants!

    • BerkeleyHapa
    • 16th November 2016

    I’m across the bay in Berkeley. My Dad planted a Meyer Lemon tree almost 50 years ago, and a second one about 20 years ago. We bought the house 4 years ago. However, several years ago we started trading excess lemons with June Taylor ( who we met at the Berkeley Famer’s Market, and occasionally with Phoenix Pastificio before they moved off Shattuck. Now June is only in the SF market, but we still trade as her Still Room is in Berkeley and she says our lemons are very high quality (my family always gardened organically). We get lemons year-round and trade in 10-20 pound batches usually. No waste here!

    • admin
    • 16th November 2016

    Not only plant edibles, but share them as well. So much good home-grown fruit goes to waste!

    • Paul
    • 17th November 2016

    Great post. I agree that you would be better off going for at least a couple different crops so you don’t promote monoculture. In our town they now prohibit planting fruit trees along streets because they think that they are harder for the city to cleanup (leaves & snow and fruit). All this would be avoided by pruning and a system for collecting fruit when owners don’t want the fruit. We are hoping to start some community groups to help do this. Local sustainability is such a great idea!

    • Gordon
    • 17th November 2016

    I live in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco and I have a beautiful and bountiful old meyer lemon tree in my backyard. It was actually one of the big reasons why I wanted to buy this house! I have great memories of the meyer lemon trees my parents had in their backyard in Los Angeles when I was a kid. They make the best lemonade! ….and now that I am older, I’ve discovered that they make the absolute best limoncello I have ever tasted.

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