Mark Boyer

Guerrilla Grafters Secretly Graft Fruit-Bearing Branches onto San Francisco Trees

by , 09/17/12
filed under: Gardening, News, San Francisco

apples, wisconsin, Gay Mills, apple orchard, fruit tree, apple tree

We’ve heard of guerrilla gardening, and we’ve heard of grafting plants — but guerrilla grafting? That’s new to us. For the past two years, a group that calls themselves Guerrilla Grafters have been secretly grafting fruit-bearing scions onto ornamental, non-fruiting trees in San Francisco. City officials contend that Guerrilla Grafters are breaking the law, but their actions have been celebrated by proponents of urban agriculture. And they have been included in the US pavilion’s Spontaneous Interventions exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Guerrilla Grafters, spontaneous interventions, fruit grafting, fruit trees, san francisco

The streets of San Francisco are lined with pear, plum and apple trees, but out of fear that the fruit would make a mess and attract rodents, the city intentionally planted sterile trees that don’t bear fruit. By grafting fruit-bearing branches on those trees, Guerrilla Grafters make fruit free and accessible to anyone who picks it. The group was started by Tara Hui, who started grafting fruit-bearing branches onto city trees a few years ago.

To graft a branch onto a fruit tree, all you have to do is make a slit with a knife in a brach on the host tree; insert a branch from a fruit-bearing tree, and secure it with tape. “Once it heals, it connects,” Hui told the LA Times. “Basically the branch becomes part of the tree.” Guerrilla Grafters use color-coded electrical tape to mark their handiwork, but they won’t disclose the location of their interventions to the press out of fear that the city will remove them.

With “undoing civilization one branch at a time” as their motto, Guerrilla Grafters consider what they do to be a radical act — and it is. Although it doesn’t solve problems of food scarcity, it’s a symbolic move towards making fresh food free and accessible to all. As the group explains, it’s one step closer to creating “a habitat that sustains us.”

+ Guerrilla Grafters

via LA Times and SF Chronicle

Lead photo © Flickr user WxMom

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5 Comments

  1. sabrina99 December 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Such awesomeness!!!!!

  2. michael c. pacis May 17, 2014 at 3:07 am

    You’re doing good, God Bless You. It is one way to fight hunger…

  3. Derek Henry May 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    does my heart good to read this article my take is it adds to a healthy ecosystem

  4. John Bradshaw January 8, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Fruit bearing trees will mess the streets for sure. Not only will they attract rodents but will also attract pests like Scales, Whiteflies, and Mealybugs. Apart from the cons of fruit bearing trees I think grafting fruit trees is a real art and something that will be taken more seriously in the near future.

  5. john89 September 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    what the hell is the point of planting fruit trees that dont fruit?
    how town has fruit trees and nut trees all over the place and yes they fruit.

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