22 July 2009

Putting it by {part 4}: Apricots OR The kindness of neighbors

Last Thursday, I picked 23 lbs of apricots. From my neighbor Jeff. He lives across the street from me and for the past week I had been walking by his house with Freddie and I kept noticing lots and lots of little bitty apricots in his driveway. I had never met this neighbor, so I felt a little awkward about walking up into his driveway and stealing his apricots (especially after being on the other side of similar exchanges with our raspberries). So I tried knocking on the door a few times, to no avail. Finally I left him a note, saying that I just happened to notice that he had an apricot tree, and that it seemed like he wasn’t picking them and did he mind if I did. You know, since it seemed such a shame to let them go to waste. A few hours later, the phone rang and he told me to come on over. So I toted my ladder, and a couple of bags, across the street and got to picking. An hour, and many funny looks from passers-by, later, I had about 23 lbs of the most tasty little apricots.

So there I was, with 23 lbs of apricots. And here’s what I did with them... We ate some, gave some to friends (including one that Freddie grabbed out of a friend’s hand- I swear that dog could live on fruit if he had to), and then the preserving started…

-apricot butter
-apricot syrup
-apricot/raspberry jam
-frozen apricots
-dried apricots
-and one loaf of apricot banana bread (which really just tastes like banana bread)

Seriously people, it’s been a little ridiculous. In the best way possible. For one, I got to meet a new neighbor (who will most definitely be receiving more than one jar of something from that list above). For two, I got a shit-ton of apricots, which would otherwise have been left for the birds or thrown out. For three, I’m once again filled with that warm fuzzy feeling that urban farming continues to bring me.

After reading Martha’s recent post, I realized that I’d forgotten to tell you all about Fresh, which Jared and I recently saw (at a screening a new community garden, no less). It was a wonderful movie. Not that I needed convincing on any of those issues, but there was so much good information about our food systems, and what farmers have to deal with. One of my favorite parts was how it gave the perspective of farmers who are NOT using organic or sustainable methods. How many of them feel trapped and unable to change their ways, even though they might know that what they’re doing is not the best. It’s hard to take that leap when corporations, and the government are so supportive of producing cheap, genetically modified, pesticide-ridden, corn and soy. Corn. And. Soy. And not even corn and soy to feed people, it’s all about feeding animals (who shouldn’t even be eating that stuff anyways) and making ethanol.

Okay, I’ll end my tirade now and just tell you to see the movie. And pay special attention to Will Allen, from Milwaukee. This man is a
mazing. I had heard of him prior to seeing the film, but after that (and his recent feature in the NY Times Magazine) I REALLY want to go to Wisconsin and take one of his workshops. For Reals. This man is the epitome of urban farming and it’s so inspiring. To know that I can live in the middle of this city, on a crazy busy, loud, three lane street that leads straight into downtown, and pick 23 lbs of apricots from my neighbor.

This life. Well, it’s pretty much awesome.


  1. If you go to Milwaukee to see Will Allen, you need to stop in Madison and make preserves with me! I recently got brave too and asked 2 neighbors if they'd let me pick their cherries. Both said yes and I am treating them to homemade cherry ice cream.

  2. I loved this story.
    I think that I would really love to hang out with you, talking about food, cooking, farming, reading, sewing...
    I want to make more preserves!
    And I want to leave a bit more near nature too...
    Good for you and the bonus of your neighbor attitude!

  3. WHY is there no one around me growing an abundance of fruit!?

    but that's ok. i'll just trade with you :)

    life is pretty awesome, isn't it.

  4. Loved this post, but here's the sad thing about me...with all this good information, what I will remember is "shit-ton."

    I guess I'll have to investigate this doc when it comes out on DVD. Food, Inc played for a week in Nashville, but I could not get to the theater, so again, DVD.

  5. Just found your blog and love this post! What a fantastic haul and great you could meet your neighbor. I love the 'warm fuzzy' suburban homesteader feeling too! Nothing better...

  6. Wowsers....so much food!
    You are living my dream right now, julia. I want to be gleaning in my alley but the heat has got me beat down. Thanks for sharing these stories and recipes and I totally adore these photos...

  7. hi! so happy i found this post through abby's. loved reading your story. and thank you for the great links. that will allen totally made me cry. going to have to link to him and growing power over on sew green.
    (ha. i just noticed shona's comment. too funny.)

  8. way to go! so awesome. and yummy. i love it.