Public Fruit Jam by "Fallen Fruit" at YBCA Nov 2!

Very little tickles me more* than plucking an illicit plum or Meyer lemon from a tree in the city. Fallen Fruit's mission is to get property owners to grow fruit trees on the edges of their property, so that the public can harvest and forage at will based on a mapping system vaulted at Ever seen how many plums a Mirabelle can bust out? Crazy!

Why shouldn't a city have plenty of public produce? Detractors complain of vermin problems, but there are solutions, my friends. Notes Fallen Fruit co-founder Matias Viegener, "If properly cared for, fruit trees don't attract vermin. If our dream of Public Fruit Trees comes true, we'd need a collective of local people committed to the trees."

Fallen Fruit's PUBLIC FRUIT JAM 2008 goes down this Sunday at YBCA. Rachael of LA's radicool Chicks with Knives Sustainable Supper Club clued me into this event. Check it out!!

The Gatherers exhibition @ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Sunday, November 2, 2008
1:00pm - 4:00pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street
PUBLIC FRUIT JAM - join Fallen Fruit in a collaborative event in which the citizens come together for a communal jam making session. Bring along your home-grown or public fruit and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone will leave with a jar of communal jam.

If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Pots of fun for all! The kinds of jam we make will improvise on the fruit that the participants provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen Fruit will bring public fruit. We are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil guava or lemon pepper jelly.

We’ll discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, the aesthetics of sweetness, as well as the communal power of shared food and the liberation of public fruit. As a performance event, this piece is about collaboration on multiple levels: Fallen Fruit's collaboration with the public, the participant's collaboration with each other, and the long-term collaboration between humans and nature which have produced the type and variety of fruits we now enjoy.

If the rituals around food are our first form of culture, we see jam making as a kind jewelry of food: small, sweet and heightened bites. Jams defeat time – they turn something evanescent into something more lasting. The system of exchange and transformation that the jam crystalizes is the symbolic heart of much of Fallen Fruit's work.

Visitors are asked to join jam teams of 3 to 5 people, and to work with people they have not met before. The team negotiates the jams – what kind of fruit and in what proportion. We encourage the teams not to follow recipes but to improvise and collaborate in their effort.

When the jam is done, it is spooned into small, hopefully recycled jars, and the participants take some of their own, leave some for others, and perhaps take a jar of another team's jam. The jam is never for sale; it operates on the model of the gift. The fruit that comes from the public is returned to them.


*Thanks for coming back, even though I took a vacation from posting this weekend to visit family and rest my eyes for a spell. 

The Yum Diary, if it were handwritten, would be filled with all sorts of little scribbles and bubble-writing hearts singing your praises as a reader. In puffy paint and everything.


  1. Did you make it to the Jam? :-)

    (Chicks with Knives)

  2. Aw man, no I wasn't able to make it due to some hard and fast plans, but I'm stoked that the Chron covered the YBCA show! It's up til Jan 11, 2009.


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