The Fruitful City
The Enduring Power of the Urban Food Forest
Winner of the 2019 Heritage Toronto Book Award
Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
“Moncrieff eloquently reminds readers of the bounty and beauty that surround them.” —Publishers Weekly
Our cities are places of food polarities — food deserts and farmers’ markets, hunger and food waste, fast food delivery and urban gardening. While locavores and preserving pros abound, many of us can’t identify the fruit trees in our yards or declare a berry safe to eat. Those plants — and the people who planted them — are often forgotten.
In The Fruitful City, Helena Moncrieff examines our relationship with food through the fruit trees that dot city streets and yards. She tracks the origins of these living heirlooms and questions how they went from being subsistence staples to raccoon fodder. But in some cities, previously forgotten fruit is now in high demand, and Moncrieff investigates the surge of non-profit urban harvest organizations that try to prevent that food from rotting on concrete and meets the people putting rescued fruit to good use.
As she travels across Canada, slipping into backyards, visiting community orchards, and taking in canning competitions, Moncrieff discovers that attitudinal changes are more important than agricultural ones. While the bounty of apples is great, reconnecting with nature and our community is the real prize.
Helena Moncrieff is a writer, professor, former radio journalist, and lifelong city dweller. Her writing has appeared in Best Health magazine, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and many in-house publications. Her freezer is full of fruit collected from other people’s backyards. She lives in Toronto.