The Edible landscape
I write from time to time about how street planting strips could be planted with edibles, for example fruit trees or bushes, as a way to support "urban agriculture."
Photo from Joel the Urban Gardener blog.
There are many examples over time, such as how communities in Texas planted pecan trees on their town squares.
When Sheila Dixon was Mayor of Baltimore, the planting beds in front of City Hall included herbs such as rosemary.
In Greater Takoma, there are a couple blocks where the planting strip has been planted with serviceberry (juneberry) bushes, which when they mature, produce a berry suitable for pie.
Last year, the berries had some kind of fungus and couldn't be harvested, but the year before we picked enough to make one pie.
This year, with the next door neighbors, we picked enough berries to make three pies, and I broke down and finally got over my fear and made the crusts from scratch (pretty simple actually).
After picking the berries, I happened to come across another block with even bigger bushes.
But the period in which the berries are ripe and suitable for picking is brief, about one week, and the berries are thin skinned which makes them hard to transport, so you're won't find them at a supermarket or even a farmers market--picking and cooking such cultivars makes you appreciate more of the backstory behind the creation of an industrialized agricultural system.
For whatever reason there is a very old persimmon tree at the Takoma Recreation Center that still produces. But the fruit tastes awful and isn't worth trying to cook. (I did once make persimmon cake from fruit given to Suzanne by one of her colleagues.)
That is my extent of knowledge of DC purposefully having fruit trees or bushes in the public space.
I don't know the hows and whys behind the planting of the serviceberry bushes.
In our own yard we've planted blueberries and raspberries. The latter have never taken off. The former are taking years to get to the point of bearing fruit and one of the three bushes died.
We have wild blackberries (we only figured it out the year after we moved in) and in the last year (seven years after moving in) they've become particularly fruitful, but it is always a struggle to harvest in the face of competition with the birds.
The birds deposit of seeds elsewhere in our yard facilitates the spread of the blackberries.
Our next door neighbor has planted one each of peach, pear, and plum, a grape arbor (stiff competition for fruit with raccoons, but very good), and a fig bush which has struggled in the years since particularly cold winters.
From a gardening show on PBS, I learned about Urban Tilth in Richmond/Contra Costa County, California, and how along the Richmond Greenway shared use path they've planted community gardens, including produce, where picking is open to everyone.
Photo from the Student Conservation Association.
The logical next step would be to plant fruit trees along multiuser trails. (Although dropped fruit is attractive to rodents and other animals.)