Why It Is Important To Gather & Use Fallen Fruit…And How To Do It

Fallen plums amongst leaf litter mulch

Day 27 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.

I love growing my own food.

Getting local food without the effort of growing or picking it is even better.

The situation

I have plums galore at the moment. I returned from Christmas to find the branches arched over under their weight. And now, as the fruit is ripening, I am finding plums on the ground underneath my trees.

Wherever there is a fruit tree, invariably some fruit will fall to the ground. There are many reasons why this happens to (nearly) ripe fruit, including wind, clumsy animals or insufficient water.

Places to find fallen fruit include:

  • fruit trees in public places (like the odd apricot tree that was mistakenly planted as a street tree near me)
  • trees with branches leaning into public spaces (like I hope the branches of one of my apricot trees will do one day)
  • your own garden or the garden of someone you know.

I also live in an area that has fruit fly, so it’s important that I do my bit to stop its spread. (Luckily I haven’t found any in my plums yet.)

What I do

If I am quick and get to the fruit before anyone (or anything) else does, then I can make use of at least some the fruit.

After washing, I use unblemished parts of the fruit for cooking or fermenting for later use.

I do my best to dispose of the rest responsibly:

  • Pieces of fruit I cannot use plus any fruit that has started to rot or that is fresh but has been partly eaten (parrots, I’m looking at you!) goes straight into my closed hot compost That way, the nutrients and moisture is retained on site.
  • If fruit has maggots or eggs in it (rare in my garden), I put it in an old plastic bag, seal it and leave it in the sun for a few days to kill the eggs and maggots, then it all goes into the compost (and I wash the bag for re-use).
  • Sometimes I miss fruit and discover it when it is too mushy with rot to pick up…or there are seeds hidden in the mulch (after my animal friends have eaten the fruit). In those cases the fruit finishes rotting and ends up feeding the soil…and sometimes they turn into new trees that I pass on to friends. (That’s how I found out that the fruit from the offspring of my peach tree are tastier than their parent.)
  • If I had chooks, they would be doing all the cleaning up for me – including eating any maggots and eggs (good protein for them) – and I would miss out on harvesting from the ground!


I aim to make the best and responsible use of all the resources available to me to tread lightly on the earth, so that we can have a hospitable home for life into the future.

Making good use of fallen fruit honours the local nutrients, water and energy that has gone into making it.

This, and the seasonal nature of fallen fruit, connects us into the cycles of nature.

I find this a wonderful antidote to the throw-away culture of recent times, with all the damage to our world that involves. In a small way, it also helps shift to more sustainable food production that will be needed if we are to feed humanity into the future.

In contrast, sending food ‘waste’ to ‘landfill’ dumps perpetuates the one-way view of the world that is contrary to nature’s cycles. In particular, it removes the nutrients (which are already in short supply) from use and, in the airless depths of the dump, creates climate-damaging methane.

By eating it (at least in part), you are eating healthy and seasonal food, with all the benefits of growing food yourself.

If we use fallen fruit from local public spaces, it can help to create networks within our neighbourhood and build stronger local communities. This is vital for community resilience in our changing world.

In processing the fruit, we also develop, maintain and share valuable skills in cooking and preserving. (Keep an eye out for my posts about that.)

Why now?

We have already disrupted and depleted the earth’s cycles for the essential nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus to the extent that future food production will be affected.

Furthermore, the consequences of damage to our climate are unfolding at a greater rate than has been predicted – and they are accelerating. This also affects the ability of plants to grow. The remote and industrial way we grow our food is a major contributor to climate change.

We therefore need to stop this damage to our world as a matter of urgency. Eating food that is local, organic and seasonal, and keeping nutrients in the local soil, are essential parts of this. They also vital for adapting to our changing climate.

The challenges

1  Find out if there are fruit trees in your local area – and keep an eye out for fallen fruit.

  • Check out your own fruit trees.
  • Look around your neighbourhood.
  • Talk to the people in your neighbourhood.
  • Look for (and help) online resources like org and local groups (such as those involved in foraging, homesteading, gardening and permaculture).

2  Consider how you might use fallen fruit you find. Again, local knowledge and the internet can be great help here.

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…