Low Hanging Fruit

Guest post by Jess Bart-Williams: As an economics buff, I have always had a passion for garbage.  We are constantly throwing out stuff that could be helpful to somebody else, but 9 times out of 10, we’re either too busy or we don’t have an easy way to get it to the right person.  It’s just another reminder that we aren’t talking to each other.  I am constantly surprised that people will do anything to keep from working together; then I remember I have 20 things to do and I’ve got to get them done because for heaven’s sake, can’t anyone do it right around here… but I digress.

We foreclosed on our home in Richmond a few years ago.  We lived off Park Central in Hilltop Green, and we had two pear trees and a pine tree in the backyard.  With a toddler, a newborn, and two brown thumbs, the fruit rotted on those trees every year.  Every Fall I would collect green cans full of pears promising that next year, things would be different.  My empty promises were joined by a chorus of neighbors street after street (except my next door neighbor who had the best garden I have ever seen).  People were racing to work and crawling back home day after day.  Those that could afford gardening service usually chose to hire someone, and the rest of us stepped over fruit in our backyards.  Sometimes the kids would rip off an orange and whip it down the street, but that was about as much action as those trees ever saw.
Back then I thought, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?”  And in spurts I would think about creating a program for kids and teens to get the fruit out of the backyards and drive it up to the Food Bank.  I thought the program could be financed somehow because there might be a tax write off that somehow could work as income for the donation that could pay back the investor after a year or so.  I never looked into the tax benefit, and to this day I have never been to the Food Bank.  I’ve just sat here thinking somebody should have been able to figure this out.
Today, as I spend 25% of my daily allowance on toast and tea, I am motivated to look at that idea again.  I had a banana last night before bed (it will be on today’s allowance sheet), and it was the first piece of fruit I’ve had in two days.  I’ll go to the grocery store today, but the advertised prices make it unlikely that I will see any within the next week.  And if this challenge were reality, I would be thinking that fruit is probably a non-essential luxury by now.
I’m putting this idea on the list too.  I would also love to meet or talk with Van Jones, since I think this could be incorporated with weatherproofing neighborhoods for pay.  Who knows?

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