Guerilla grafters

Interesting read

Love it! Been talking about taking that up around here for about a year now. Bradford pears have become hot landscaping trees over the last 10 years in Phoenix…

That article is from 2012… things have changed since then. They city of SF removes any “guerrilla grafted” trees they find. The grafters have moved onto asking people with street-overhanging trees if they can graft onto them. Since its on private property the city can’t remove them!

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I definitely understand the sentiment. There’s a feral apricot tree in the park near me. Somehow it’s managed to steadily grow for about 15 years in the midst of a terrible draught with no water source nearby. I had no idea how easy grafting was until I read the article.

Probably it would be better to propagate the tree as rootstock.

Chuck it seems the topic was already discussed here, however without a large influence on the ethics or practicality of the topic.

The link is served by Cloudflare. I use the Tor browser. Cloudflare will not serve that content to Tor users. Sorry.

P.S. By switching exit nodes, I found one in Norway that wasn’t blocked.

The “Guerilla Grafters” article was pretty old and sketchy.

I’ll restate my position: Unmaintained and unharvested fruit trees are a nuisance. Pests and the unwashed public scatter the fruit in the public right-of-way where it decomposes and harbors insects that attack healthy fruit on private property. Growing fruit in public places is not the answer to world hunger.


I couldn’t agree more Chuck. “Free” fruit growing all over the city is a romantic notion that doesn’t work at all in reality.

Without proper care, they are just breeding grounds for harmful insects, making it very difficult for other people who are actually trying to grow fruit.

Here in Spokane, the climate is near perfect for apples. There are feral apple trees all over Eastern Washington. The apples don’t get thinned so they are very small and full of worms. Cherries are even worse, all full of maggots.

The pest pressure is so bad that the county posts traffic signs all over telling people not to transport home grown fruit.

I will admit that the abundance of feral apple trees in our area are greatly appreciated by birds, raccoons, deer and bear. They make good hunting locations…

Again, a romantic idea that only makes small, wormy fruit that serves as a breeding ground for harmful insects…


Rather than sneaking edible plants/trees into public spaces it would be far more useful to let communities use public spaces to intentionally grow them so that they can be properly managed without requiring sneaking around.


If I had more room on public land, I would happily plant and maintain a stand of trees near my house, knowing I’d benefit as well as others. Lining the streets of cities with apples is not what I am aiming for. I am more thinking along the lines of planting persimmons and pawpaws in county parks where there are already Bradford pears and ornamental apples and cherries planted, to the benefit of nobody. There is plenty of room in these locations along the woodline to add food trees to the mix. I agree planting traditional disease prone trees like apples and peaches would be irresponsible without proper spray schedules and maintenance. Persimmons and pawpaws do just fine in the wild here with no maintenance, among other fruits. That’s just the example I keep referring to.


That makes more sense to me Ryan. Thanks for the clarification.


I’d love to see more nut trees in public parks. Many of them become large beautiful trees, which is why many people are reluctant to grow them in their own yards, but in parks they could provide high calorie harvests as well as beauty. Worse case scenario they’d be good spots for squirrel production (for stew making).


What fruit bearing pears work in Phoenix, by the way?

I am a strong proponent of guerilla gardening, especially where the “gardeners” actively maintain the plants and avoid planting things that are pest-prone. Too many people have little or no land of their own to produce food, so that should absolutely be high on the list of acceptable uses for public spaces.

Obviously it would be better if we collectively agreed to set aside more space for community gardens and food forests, so the “guerilla” part wouldn’t be necessary, but until/unless that happens I’m all for this kind of thing.

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Totally agree Ryan, I am starting a wild plum thicket alongside a local trail that in the future will bear fruit for folks taking a hike. I will be collecting various cultivars from around the country to add to the thicket. Where I grew up in W Tn, wild native plums were generally unaffected by insects, so the thickets were favorite go to places for children. Here I have several different cultivars that are also pest free and can be grow anywhere due to their inherent breeding.
Kent, wa


The non-profit I work with just closed on it’s first parcel of land in the past week. It is an old railroad grade we have a grant to install a 5 mile rail trail on. I have many plans for a seedling native fruit laden route.


Tell me more… :running_man::biking_woman::evergreen_tree:

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I’m all for edible landscaping, but my worry with Guerilla grafting in urban public places is that many cities are not going to respond by removing the branches that become perveived nuisances, but by removing the whole tree. Random grafting out in the wilds would make more sense for diversification and snacks for hikers, cyclists, etc., and excess is more likely to be cleaned up by the inhabitants of the wilds between the visits of the two-leggeds.


I’m (hypothetically) an avid guerrilla gardener, but I only attempt to reintroduce underrepresented plants to native habitats ( spicebush, mountain mint), replace invasives in public free spaces (callery roots get edible topwork, trying to replace bush honey suckles with honeyberry), reshape poorly growing plants (remove future bark inclusions), or improve productivity of natives with pinching, using other "native"s to improve genetics etc. I can see where guerrilla gardening in an urban setting (sidewalk overhangs) would be more detriment than benefit.


Aultman Run watershed out in Indiana County. So a bit of a drive for both of us, but when it’s pawpaw season it might be worth it!

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I agree with your sentiment Carl. However, even New York city has parks with open space that this strategy could be applied with minimal detriment to societal desires like not having mushy pears full of yellow jackets lining the streets.