Urban forests provide many benefits to society – aesthetic beauty, protection from the elements, the ability to sequester carbon and reduce pollution, to name a few. However, one basic attribute of trees is often overlooked in urban settings – their ability to produce food. Within urban areas, trees have frequently been treated as architectural elements used to soften the human-built landscape. City trees that produce food—such as apples and other fruits—are usually located in public parks or on private lands occupied by schools, homes, and places of worship. Fruit produced from trees located on these properties is often wasted or unused. In this sense food is an afterthought – trees are planted for beautification and environmental purposes, but rarely for the purpose of food production.
This report seeks to showcase organizations around the U.S. that promote urban fruit tree production, inform readers of urban fruit tree possibilities and benefits, and develop a greater awareness among city dwellers about an existing, underutilized resource that our country’s urban forests can provide.