“Wouldn’t the fruits be all nasty then?” said a Jubilee Arts student in response to my explanation of edible rain gardens in the city. “No! That’s what’s so great about edible rain gardens,” I replied. Rain gardens trap polluted rainwater, preventing pollutants from running off into our streams, tributaries, and ultimately our bay. The plants trap these pollutants, so it makes sense to be wary of edible plants in rain gardens. However, these plants trap the pollutants in their leaves and roots, not in their fruit, so the fruit is uncontaminated and more than okay to eat.
So although the student looked at me suspiciously, it’s true!–urban fruits are indeed nutritious. In fact, they are more nutritious than commercial fruits. In a collaborative study, The League of Urban Canners and the Wellesely lab of undergraduate researchers found that urban fruit has higher levels of iron and calcium than their commercial equivalents. Urban fruits are delightfully funky–misshapen and delicious, and now we know that they are incredibly healthy!
As the elderberries and aronias grow with the help of the Jubilee students, the students will be able to enjoy tasty, healthy fruit from pollutant-fighting plants.
Here are references to learn more about urban fruit and edible rain gardens: