It’s like a healthy, summertime trick-or-treat — no costumes needed.
On June 26, LA Fruit Share’s latest event will take place, giving Angelenos an opportunity to meet their neighbors, explore their neighborhoods and share bushels of fruit that might otherwise go unused or undistributed.
“The idea’s very simple — if you have fruit, and you’re not eating it, share it,” said LA Fruit Share co-founder Julia Sherman, a writer, cook, artist and photographer known by her social handle, SaladForPresident.
If you’ve got fruit and want to share it, you’re encouraged to set it out in a display (whether it’s simple or elaborate is up to you). If you want fruit, you’re allowed to pick it up. Those taking part will be given a map of locations the morning of the event, which will be made private as soon as the event ends, for the continued privacy of participants.
Early last year, when LA Fruit Share was a nascent idea in the collective minds of its creators, the dream was for it to be the center of a gathering in Chinatown. They envisioned a giant food swap, where folks “brought their haul” and traded together.
The pandemic changed that, but for the better, Sherman said. The event pivoted from something with a central hub to a grand tour of the city, with a crowd-sourced, user-populated map showing participants where the food is and what folks are offering. The result was an event that fostered connections between neighbors and their communities.
“It became this COVID-friendly activity because it was all outside, and there wasn’t a crowd,” Sherman said. “With increased food insecurity, it seemed more important than ever.”
The thing about having a fruit tree, Sherman said, is that it can be a lot of work — first to cultivate fruit, and then to harvest it — and then even more work to figure out what you can do with all of the fruit. The reality is that there’s quite a bit of food waste every year among people who are growing fruit at home. Events like this give communities the chance to share the wealth and allow home cooks to flex their culinary skills.
Alisson Xavier is a relative newcomer to Los Angeles, moving to the city in January 2020.
“I found out about Fruit Share and thought, what a great idea to explore my new neighborhood and fill up my bags with winter goodies,” he said. That first event got him hooked. At the previous fruit share event in January, he came away with more lemons than he knew what to do with.
“I used the juice for lemonade and vinaigrettes and marinades, but then I saved the pith and the lemon rinds so I could candy them,” which he used to top off ice cream, he said.
“The fun thing about this is it’s free food. So while it’s nice to have access to it, you want to make sure you’re not wasting any of it,” Xavier said. “If I can use one lemon three ways for three different things, I’m down to do that. I’m excited to see what we get for summer fruit — what we can’t eat fresh or throw into a smoothie, I’ll be making jam or something else with it.”
Participation in LA Fruit Share is free, but registration is required for both sharing fruit and picking it up. For more information and to register, visit LAFruitShare.org.