With a bevy of support, the Facebook team “Chico Gleaners” showed up at Chico City Hall Monday evening to make a difference, and the seemingly stunned Parks Commission appeared quite receptive to what the crowd had to say.
About half a dozen people got up to speak on behalf of the Gleaners led by Eric Chisler, who “enjoys the fact we get to pick from public trees.” Advocating for a city that makes sense, he asked that the commission reconsider the current rules that do not permit planting fruit bearing trees on public lands. Currently, one must get a permit to plant a tree on city property, and fruit-bearing trees currently are excluded.
Julie Butler then spoke, and she advocates “Local sustainability” with the Facebook group Chico Garden Share, a group focused on what I like to call “Victory Gardens.” By sharing the over-abundance of fruit and vegetables grown in our own back yards not just with each other, but with the community, she has been a true inspiration to nearly 2000 members on Facebook.
Leslie Corsbie, a landscaper who specializes in permaculture, follewed up Julie’s advocacy before the commission, asking for a “resourceful city culture,” and advocated for specific trees that are not only producers of nutritious fruits and uts, but also commented on the medicinal properties certain trees have.From olives and elderberries to apples, currant and stonefruit, these trees would not only feed the community, but would “maintain and balance the environment naturally.”
Meagan Fischer then addressed the primary issue that is now in the city code, the issue of detritus. The Gleaners effectively clean up hundreds of pounds of fruits and nuts a week, and then share it, working not only off of the public trees, but with private hommeowners who have an ovedrabundance of thier own and want to share it. She also referenced a different take on “A Taste of Chico,” saying that the citrus, plums, nuts, and pomegranates that the city produces would give residents a different perspective on the joys of living in Chico.
A few more advocates presented their testionials, including CSU Professor Mark Stemen, who teaches Geography and Planning. He stated that this is a trend that is going on around the country, as is evidenced in Chicago, Portland, and Berkeley. THe Final advocate was Max Kee, from GRUB, who has been gleaning around the northstate for nearly 10 years. He commmented on the good fortune and rewards living in the Chico has to offer, and said he loves the work and sharing the bounty.
The commission, led by Mark Herrera and seconded by Lisa Emmerich and Mary Brentwood, agreed to put it on the agenda, despite Urban Forester Dan Efseaff’s concern about propriety (and probably work load). The committee then closed the forum, and went on to the next item on the agenda.
Afterwards, Professor Stemen said that he was well pleased with turnout and the results of the Gleaners’ efforts and then explained the procedures to the assembled group. A public information meeting is inevitable, but the potential for the work the Gleaners have to do is invigorating, as well as delicious.