Crowd-sourced information is the way of the future. We all know that – just flick to the WikiCamps app on your own phone for confirmation. In today’s modern world, if you want to know something about somewhere, you’re likely to find out from a local – even if you haven’t met, nor will ever meet, said local. Instead, Mr Local will upload that information to an online database, and you’ll search for the result on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. It’s impersonal, maybe, but oh how we love it.
One of the best crowd sourced databases we’ve come across is the Falling Fruit map, a global database of public fruit trees, edible plants and other places you can get food just by picking it, foraging for it or digging it up. It’s like Geocaching, but a whole lot more filling. According to Russ Grayson, media liaison for the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network, there is a lot of public fruit in the community, if you know what you are looking for. But he does say that it’s very important to properly identify any potential food you forage.
Maybe the best part of the Falling Fruit map, however, is that it’s completely open – users are just as free to upload new locations as they are to trawl the database for free food near them. Which is why it could be such a valuable assets for caravanners and motorhomers, especially when we’re on a tight budget.
More so, this is a great way to minimise fruit wastage or even reduce the prevalence of pests. For example, Urban Farming Tasmania wants people to use the map to “allow people access to free fruit in the community, reduce the rotten fruit on the ground (and wasps) and to improve the health of the trees”.
And even if you don’t care to much for the more noble, environmental benefits of natural harvesting, you can at least stock up on supplies for free. And who’s not into that?
And that’s not the only way to find free food while on the road. Australia also boasts a healthy and vibrant passion for community gardens. Many of these, which are open to the public (usually at limited, pre-determined times), have great varieties of seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs. Some welcome travellers to freely come and take what they need, while others are specifically maintained for the benefit of the volunteers who put in the time and effort.
But, according to Grayson, there’s certainly etiquette involved in using produce from these gardens. You definitely shouldn’t just turn up and take things from it. But, if you can put in the time to volunteer, they’re a great way to meet new people, or find out more about the town you’re visiting. The network hosts a great map of community gardens, here.
One less desirable option is the activity colloquially known as ‘dumpster diving’, namely, retrieving discarded food from the waste bins of large grocery stores, food markets or even restaurants. It might be a young person’s pursuit, but sources like Greenpeace claim Australia wastes over $8billion worth of food every year, while worldwide, we allegedly waste one third of all food produced globally.
Whatever the global case, according to ‘dumpster divers’ supermarkets throw out plenty of food every day, most of which is still fine to eat or drink, if you are prepared to go through a bin to get it. Most of us aren’t, and that is completely understandable – we can still just pick food off trees, or go fishing…
What lengths do you go to for a free feed? Tell us in the comments below.