5 Questions for David Burns and Austin Young

The endeavors of the ‘The Endless Orchard’ project by Fallen Fruit, artists David Burns and Austin Young, to create an Urban Fruit Trail piqued my curiosity and interest. So I have invited both of them today to share with us more about this unique public art project.

Qn: Could you share more about this 'Endless Orchard' project to our readers? How is this project related to art?

Through a process of research, collaboration, and public participation, Fallen Fruit creates site-specific artworks and public fruit tree installations that celebrate the cities, neighborhoods and the people who make them extraordinary. We use interstitial municipal spaces like “canvas” and fruit trees as “sculptural objects” to transform neighborhoods. Fruit trees become a catalyst for acts of collaboration and community actions. Our artworks move beyond materials to illuminate “the familiar” and “the everyday.” If we can help to make neighborhoods not only more liveable but also to make more sense, we have been successful.

We decided to call the project “The Endless Orchard” because we hope that it could really go on forever. People can just continue to plant fruit trees in the margins of public spaces and in interstitial municipal spaces anywhere for everyone to share.

Qn: What inspired you both to come up with this project?

In 2004 We knew there was tons of fruit in our neighborhood in Los Angeles- but we wondered how much was accessible to the public- so, as an artwork, we mapped the fruit that existed in public space as well as accessible trees that were hanging over sidewalks. We have mapped neighborhoods in cities around the world since. We discovered that there is fruit in public space not everywhere- at least in parts of cities. The neighborhoods we discovered in Athens, Copenhagen, Boulder, Guadalajara, Los Angeles and others were different than the rest of the city, they were places that were more friendly, approachable and welcoming. These fruitful neighborhoods had a sense of generosity.

Fruit trees are a symbol of generosity that crosses ideas of race, class, country of origin, or age. They live in a neighborhood longer than the people who planted them and collectively can become a well-known local landmark, annually offering a “gift” to any passerby, neighbors and their guests. This sweet exchange is a form of collaboration - nature-to-people, person-to-person - that can occur everyday. It is the complexities of these exchanges, the co-creation of artworks, and symbolic actions of community sharing, that will create a critical discourse that embraces community and aesthetics.

Fallen Fruit makes real ‘grass roots’ shifts in the experience of community. The project engages the public over a long period of time, in a sense, as long as the trees survive. We invite people take part by planting and caring for one or two publicly accessible fruit trees.

We thought we would make an ambitious project and The Endless Orchard is a way to share fruit in public spaces and connect people all over the world. A massive public artwork that you can eat. We talked about the idea that posed the question, what if we invited everyone in the world to help make where they live a more generous and giving place?” What if most places in the world didn’t have people who were hungry? What if it was easy to have a healthy snack in any city you went to, even if you were a guest traveling on vacation? or homeless? or whatever? We got excited about the idea that generosity begets generosity and so we started to make a plan.

Qn: What were some of your most challenging experiences getting involved in the 'Endless Orchard' project?

What sometimes creates obstacles for the project is a misguided fear of fruit. The term is often referred to as “attractive nuisance” and is essentially an unfounded myth in regard to fruit trees in public space. There are thousands of fruit trees that exist in public space and on the margins of public space throughout the cities in the United States.

Hardwood trees on The Endless Orchard, such as citrus, stone fruits and apples that don’t take on any possible contaminants that may pre-exist or become introduced into the soil. In addition, deciduous trees naturally shed any possible toxin by losing their leaves in the autumn and this is a natural renewal process for the trees similar to animals that grow and shed body hair. Fruit trees in Urban areas are often healthier and are safe to eat.

Qn: How did the name for your art collaboration - 'Fallen Fruit' came about?

‘Fallen Fruit ‘comes from an ancient Roman law in the Old Testament. Leviticus states – ‘not to reap the edges of your fields or vineyards to leave the fallen fruit for the stranger or the passerby. ‘ The name was simply the original title a manifesto text, and a map of our neighborhood, Silver Lake, in Los Angeles, of all of the fruit trees in public space. Since that time we have created maps of neighborhoods all over the world, created projects for dozens of museums and notable public participatory projects such as Lemonade Stand and Public Fruit Jams, among others.

Fallen Fruit was originally conceived by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Since 2013, David and Austin have continued the collaborative work.

Qn: How many different types of fruits are you guys going to plant in this 'Endless Orchard' project? (And what fruits are these?)

In Southern California we’ll plant Apples, Avocados, Berries, Figs, Grapes, Grapefruit, Guavas, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Peaches, Persimmons, Plums, Pomegranates, and more. The conditions found at each specific location will help to determine which trees are planted. The goal is not to create a mono-crop installation, but Instead plant a broad variety of seasonal fruit. In Southern California, it is possible to design Public Fruit Park that will become “ever-bearing” as trees blossom and ripen to maturity back-to-back on the annual calendar.

We thank Mr David Burns and Mr Austin Young from Fallen Fruit for sharing with us their latest project - 'The Endless Orchard', and we wish them all the best for this project. For more about 'The Endless Orchard', you may visit their website or face-book page


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