Conceived as a temporary project in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Vegener and Austin Young, Fallen Fruit began when its founders learned that L.A. city law states that fruit hanging over sidewalks and public places can be picked by anyone. The name “Fallen Fruit” is a reference to the Bible’s book of Leviticus, which decrees that fallen fruit on the edge of a field should remain unharvested to feed the stranger, the poor, and the passerby.
The group’s first exercise mapped the locations of fruit trees in public spaces in Southern California for local residents and the homeless. Fallen Fruit then expanded to include nocturnal fruit foraging tours open to the general public.
Subsequently they introduced “public fruit jams,” collaborative gatherings where participants bring home grown or street picked fruit to turn into jam alongside friends and strangers. They also organized fruit tree adoptions, with the intention that they be placed on the periphery of private properties and made available to passing pedestrians.
In 2017, Fallen Fruit launched Endless Orchard, a collaborative fruit sharing map. Anyone, anywhere can help expand the project by mapping fruit trees in public space or by planting more fruit trees next to sidewalks in front of their homes, businesses or community centers for everyone to share.
Fallen Fruit’s work has been incorporated into exhibitions at major museums throughout LA, and Endless Orchard has expanded internationally. According to Young, the group’s work is about community. The programs and initiatives they have developed draw people together by creating a shared experience around a shared resource.