Citrus fruitIf you have a citrus or stone fruit tree in your garden, you may be wondering what to do with the harvest that exceeds what you and your family can consume.

You could get to know your neighbors and start a fruit exchange or participate in an exchange that already exists.  Neighborhoodfruit.com is a website that allows you to “register” your tree and share the fruit that it produces.  You can also log in and click on the find fruit icon to locate public and private trees in your neighborhood.  (In a previous post I describe “neighborhood food sheds” as a local food production and distribution system.)

If you would like some assistance in starting your own homegrown fruit and produce exchange, sbfoodnotlawns.org has a section “Start Your Own Exchange” that offers helpful tips and suggestions.  While you are on the site, check out the local seasonal planting section to see what to plant in your garden based on the time of year.

For those who do not have a fruit tree, but would still like to participate, there are foraging groups. Using a system of community barter, foraging groups collect and redistribute fruit and other produce that would otherwise be wasted. (In California it is legal to harvest the fruit that is hanging above public property.  Good foraging etiquette is to always ask the homeowner first however.)  In Berkeley, North Berkeley Harvest  is a non-profit that picks fruit in the area and donates it to local charities.  San Jose based Village Harvest picks fruit from backyards and small orchards in the Bay Area and distributes it to local food agencies.

If you’d like to know more about where to forage locally, check online. In San Francisco, foragesf.com connects readers with the wild food around them by offering wild edible food walks as well as dinners and a market.

When you and your neighbors come together to exchange the surplus fruit and produce grown at home, it can become a fun, cost effective way to add variety to your diet and make some new friends.