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    The Blessing and Necessity of Public Parks… and Orchards

    In his last masterpiece, Wild Fruits, Thoreau gives us an intimate tour of the vegetative life in his New England neck of the woods across the span of the year. He was a dedicated note-taker with a keen eye for observing the flow of nature’s rhythms. Over the course of years, he tracked the budding, blossoming, ripening and end times of hundreds of varieties of plants, many of them edible.

    What a gift it would be to have such a guide for Baltimore, unique to our region and to the climate variability we are now experiencing. The BOP is hoping to begin recording all these times for the fruits we harvest, both to help us better plan our yearly harvest schedules and to anticipate yields and their timing. But also to serve as records for comparison five, ten and twenty years from now so we can track how climate change is affecting our work.

    If you are doing this – or interested in helping us keep such logs regarding your fruit trees and berry bushes, or those in your neighborhood – do let us know.

    Meanwhile – here is another insight from our fellow-traveller Thoreau (also from Wild Fruits) that we also whole-heartedly endorse:

    “I think that each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, either in one body or several, where a stick should never be cut for fuel…a common possession forever, or instruction and recreation…”

    We agree: which is why we speak of a virtual orchard in Baltimore, and a virtual food forest – for we imagine them to be comprised of hundreds of lots and backyards and community gardens and campuses cast across the metropolitan region.

    And we would add food and foraging to the gifts that such places offer us all.

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