Guerilla Grafters

The Guerilla Grafters, a loose-knit band of undercover orchardists, blend gardening and urban activism to spark debate about the use of public space.


San Francisco Chronicle


Pitched own story idea to editor of paper’s food section. After assignment was given, I wrote and photographed the article.

“When you walk down the street and see a tree with 10 cherries on it — there’s a possibility of delight,” said Grafter Ian Pollock, 46, a digital arts professor who likens the project to street theater. “I’m not convinced that large-scale food production will come out of this, but the fruits of this conversation can transform the city.”

On a lonely strip of land beneath a Highway 101 interchange in San Francisco, two women surreptitiously examine the results of their craft. Tara Hui and Miriam Goldberg smile with parental pride at new green leaves sprouting from a graft on an ornamental purple-leaf plum tree. With skilled fingers, they remove the telltale yellow tape used to secure their illegal grafts only a few months earlier.

By next spring, the graft on this non-fruiting tree is expected to flower and bear a handful of ‘Methley’ plums. This is a development San Francisco public works officials are likely to frown upon. City policy forbids fruit-bearing trees on public right-of-way land, such as sidewalks, because fallen fruit can create a slip hazard.

Read article…