Our industrial food production is an inefficient system. It uses a lot of natural resources such as water. Most of the materials that are used to fertilize and fumigate the plants are fossil fuel based chemicals. In fact, our food system is responsible for 35 to 40% all green house gasses that are emitted. After all that trouble and expense of growing food, about 40% of the fruits and vegetables that we grow is wasted. Our need to eat “easy food” is killing the planet.
An unrecognized hero of the food system is the naturalized fruit tree. People unfamiliar with growing fruit trees often form opinions that have no basis in fact. For example, a common misconception is that fruit trees must have a lot of room between them. As we pass commercial orchards, we often see wide rows that can accommodate large farm equipment and assume that the space is there to accommodate the trees. The fact is that fruit trees can grow within 3 feet of each other and thrive.
Another misconception about the fruit tree is that it require a lot of maintenance including regular watering, fertilization, annual sprays and pruning. To be sure a well-maintained fruit tree lives longer and produces higher quality fruit. However most backyard fruit trees survive without care, and the fruit produced tastes better than the store-bought fruit.
If you live in Northern California, visit the town of Moraga. Near the center of the town (1000 Camino Pablo, Moraga, CA) You will find an orchard of pear trees that was planted in 1914. They get no water and no regular maintenance. If anything they get vandalized. A century later and these trees produce thousands of pounds of fruit each year.
Most backyard fruit trees that we harvest are naturalized and not pampered. Naturalized trees grow on rain water with minimal care. That is why the fruit from naturalized fruit trees is healthier for people and the planet.
We agree that naturalized backyard fruit trees are not going to solve all the problems that our broken industrial food system has caused. We also don’t believe that people can live on fruit only. However, these trees are heroes of our food system. We should understand and appreciate the elegant role they play in feeding us.