No it's not stealing if the fruit it's on your side of the fence. The above links are four recent video reports from Newsnight. Now we're wondering about a street community orchard with trees planted in private gardens & on public ground, produce shared & a link to support sustainable agriculture sub-sahara. We used to have a huge passionfruit vine in our garden that fruited on both sides of a fence. The following are general rules regarding overhanging tree branches. Urban foraging may not be strictly legal (so that presumably rules out blackberrying in the country too), but surely it is not 'ethical' to leave perfectly good food go to waste... Perhaps this highlights the dilemma between 'legal' and 'ethical'...sometimes the law is wrong... go for it Ethical Man...I think I might wash it before feeding it to my kids though. Strictly speaking, Diserens said the law allows for people to pick fruit if a tree hangs over on their property or in a public space, like a sidewalk. Can I collect windfalls from a neighbour’s tree that overhangs my garden? I was comforted by their - admittedly inexpert - counsel, and, in the spirit of our editor’s Oh my Newsnight project, I made this short film. If a tree branch containing fruit hangs over the property line between two neighbors, the neighbor of the tree's owner does not have the right to pick it. British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Hmmm. Hi r3jcorp, it's true that according law of the land, we have the right to pluck our neighbor's fruits hanging on the branches growing over our fence. Maybe the bike riding coppers are becoming more ethical too! It doesn't take long for the box to empty. It seems harsh, given that the law relating to hedges is much more generous. Also I for one hate walking through rotten fruit that has fallen on the pavement. We didn't get on too well with the previous owners, so had to conduct our foraging raids in the dead of night or early morning! Fruit fallen from fruiting trees in a public space or on common land is in most cases OK to forage. What you can do is to put up your own fencing alongside your neighbour’s fence, or pop down to your local garden centre and pick up some free-standing plants or shrubs to hide the damage. I consulted various friends and colleagues about the ethics of what I have dubbed, in the spirit of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, “urban foraging”. If you’re among the tens of thousands of us living in spaces with backyards or patios enclosed with wood fences, you may think you can’t hang anything there. Still trying to get past the blogger's gatekeeper ('you are not allowed to post to this blog'). In fact, there are maps on the Internet compiled by so-called urban foragers marking trees for picking. I have fond memories of eating grapes growing on my council estate while walking home from school and am happy to help that tradition continue. So long as you don't damage the plants it should be OK. Talk about Newsnight is a blog from the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme. Clearly the law has changed since medieval common law: the phrase "by hook or by crook" refers to a pilgrim's right to graze food that overhangs their route. You may not reach over someone's property line to pick or take. Sue seems to always have more apples than she can eat, and Janet would like to pick the apples that hang from the branches of Sue’s tree over Janet’s yard to share with her neighbors. I would like to pick the grapes to make raisins. Perhaps trees that produce fruit should be planted more often in large cities to help feed those who need it such as the homeless. Ohhh and here is something else that got under my skin. The Ethical producer, Sara, confiscated my car back in April so I’ve had the opportunity to watch the local fruit trees blossom and the fruit ripen on the boughs. We hear a great deal about how we should buy food locally as a way of reducing “food miles”, that is, the distance our food has to travel before it reaches our plates. Is the BBC to blame for attacks on Poles. You may not be entitled to all fallen fruit on the ground on your side of the fence. "During a mango season six years ago we were encouraging people to pick the mangoes hanging over the footpath as … The apples we scrumped were from some trees in the public car park of our local council offices. So says the judge who wrote the opinion — Whitesell v. Houlton — that has become nationally known as the “;Hawaii Rule”; regarding the rights of property owners versus a neighbor's tree. If the tree rests on private property but the fruit hangs over into public land, residents can legally pick it. Seems strange to me that it would be different anywhere else. This article explains a few things to keep in mind when faced with a neighbor dispute over trees. When I was a kid, urban foraging meant eating fresh blackberries, making crab-apple jelly and rosehip cordial - all foraged in North London city streets. While it may be tempting to pick ripe fruit, it's not always legal. But there's the rub; if you let people do it, eventually toerags would abuse it to get away with damaging trees for the fun of it. The fruit of a fruit tree belongs to the tree. “My neighbor’s tree has branches crossing over my fence. 3 years ago. Who does it harm? However, a nice young couple has moved in now, so this year we'll ask nicely and perhaps swap them some produce from our own veggie patch. Our local environment park has a weekly market where a lot of produce comes from an Urban Orchard scheme where people sell the excess fruit from their gardens. If the plants are growing in someone's garden (even on a boundary with e.g. No, not without permission from the owner. During a recent storm, a couple of limbs fell and hit my neighbor's fence. If it was within said reach of the path, it could be gathered. I wish more people would at least offer up this fruit to some agency who could send volunteers to pick it and bring it to soup kitchens, food shelves for low income people, and homeless shelters. In some states, the owner of a tree retains ownership of the fruit even when it extends onto a neighbor's property. Conflicts between these interests bring to prominence issues such as the rights and responsi… But no they will probably just sit there and become compost. They made a lovely crumble for after Sunday dinner. I frankly have no problem with anyone picking the apples from my tree. No, not without their permission. Under most circumstances, the fruit that grows on a tree belongs to the owner of the tree. “Urban foraging" shouldn’t be against the law; we live in a rather wasteful society as it is. I doubt anyone will care but I have to get the nerve up to just do it because they spoil or the lawn people cut it down. That leaves me with a tonne of rotten fruit at the end of the season, which is a total waste. Is there a difference between eating the fruit raw (to save energy) or cooked (in crumbles)? As the fence broke the fall, the limbs did not completely detach from the tree, They are still hanging on by a little of the bark, but leaning on, and hanging over the fence. Hello from Sacramento, California which has the most trees per capita of any metropolis in the world with the exception of Paris. I would look it up before explaining that to your neigbor if they seem to get irritated when you pick the fruit, but I am pretty sure that is the case if it is hanging over your property line then it is yours. If you have a neighbour’s tree hanging over your land, you can: exercise the common law right of abatement—your right to remove overhanging branches and roots to your boundary line decide whether to return the lopped branches, roots or fruit to your neighbour, or dispose of them yourself. Children used to climb it to pick the fruit and run away when they saw us coming down the garden. Another point is that local authorities like to plant trees carrying male flowers only, to avoid problems from fruit falling on the ground. Perhaps this could be a way forward for local councils? In quite a small area, too, resticted to the places where either I take my dog for a walk, or that are around my cultivated fruit trees. I would be thrilled to go pick what was still good at a discounted rate! Obviously there are limits, if I know my neighbours feels strongly about there apples, for example. Loved your film Justin! My partner and I pick blackberries from the alley behind our house, Rosemary from a local corporate building's ornamental car park garden and chestnuts from the trees by the road. Bravo on the urban foraging. Our next door neighbour has an apple tree in their back garden which sadly doesn't overhang into our garden, but I wish it did. When I am out driving I see so many huge apple trees just bending from the weight of so much fruit. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." People have the right to pick this fruit, regardless of whether the tree belongs to them or not. I went to a farm stand and the people had a field full of tomatoes that were just rotting on the vines. After 3 such events we'd raised enough for a small forest for this dry Sahel region of W Africa!And it was fun, re-connecting us through stories of childhood fruit picking & offers of recipes. Windfall fruit still belongs to the owner. Oh, and I have been known to knock on a neighbor's door and ask if I could pick fruit from their tree. I'm still eating the jam we made in August from the massive bramble bush that my neighbour had completely ignored. I'm on holiday next week so I brought the fresh veg that I can't use up in time (green peppers, actually) and offered them around the office. If the tree rests on private property but the fruit hangs over into public land, residents can legally pick it. I'm sure there would be more for people who really know about plants. But these produce pollen - no doubt contributing to the increase in allergic problems. I wonder how long an individual could survive off of "Urban Foraging". It is much more ethical than going into the supermarket and buying fruit which has traveled thousands of miles. Most are very pleasant and happy someone is willing to bother. It's great, it connects you to nature. Das it. And no wasteful packaging! If … You can also be guilty of trespass if you cut down or trim trees belonging to your neighbor even if you do so by mistake. Do we waste food or what! It never crossed my mind to throw them away. This isn't something you want to be fighting with your neighbors about. Click here for more. The fruit of the tree belongs to the owner of the tree, so don't pick any of the fruit. Overgrown trees can block a neighbor’s view, hang over a neighbor’s fence, or pose a risk of injury. So if that is the case then you should be able to pick the fruit from the part that is hanging inside your property. I would feel terribly guilty about that, I think. Although you have along way to go before you restore our complete faith in you, after the Jamaica trip, but this helps. Each December we got a surprisingly large number of people ringing the doorbell and asking for holly. Foraging is great, as you normally tend to pick what you can eat or cook. If your tree produces fruit, the neighbor has no right to pick the fruit, but he can collect and keep any that falls into his yard. The official rule is: hanging over the property line onto the street/sidewalk/your property, it's all good to pick and take. Should fruit that overhangs a public road be left to rot on the tree because its owner cannot be bothered to pick it? Nor can you lean over into his garden to cut back the ‘offending’ branch – you will be trespassing. It publishes an invaluable reference work: “Hedging”. I am very cheered by the increasing number of people who seem to be figuring out that there are untapped sources of bounty all around us, even in cities. I have a grape vine growing in my front garden and have a tendency to put up a sign on my fence encouraging people to help themselves. Couldn't you knock on their door and simply ask? Dear can I pick the fruit: You are not entitled to the low hanging fruit. In this case, you may have questions about your rights regarding the portion of the tree that is on your property. Can You Pick Fruit from Your Neighbors Tree? Urban foraging is a great idea and well practiced here in Australia, where generations of European migrants have left suburban streets filled with citrus trees, figs, stone fruit and olive trees. In ours, the neighbour's tree is heavy with apples just perfect for eating, stewing or puddings – an artistically laden bough hangs down over the fence towards us. She may trim the branch back to the property line, but the tree owner retains the right to the fruit. You are not allowed to go into a neighbour’s garden without permission to cut a tree back. The look on their faces was priceless, I don't think they had ever experienced anything like it! ... 3 Is it Legal to Trim a Tree Hanging Over the Fence? We had a damson tree at the bottom of the garden. Can my neighbour demand I trim my ivy on their side of the fence (mine) every couple of months? A blank wood fence is not unlike a blank wall inside your home — it deserves a little sprucing up! I was shocked to find that the law on picking fruit from overhanging branches could not be clearer: “A neighbour has no legal right to any fruit on overhanging branches.” Which I guess makes me and my two young daughters criminals. I hope your endeavors change attitudes and laws regarding this subject. Court have also ruled that you can cut branches that invade your property (but it's preferably to get a court order first). Another thing that comes up is when we walk on little dirt roads and pick wild berries, is it ok to pick them if they are at the end of someone's quarter mile long driveway? Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University. Our only concern was that they didnt fall out of the tree. Oh well, you'd best lock me and my eldest up with Justin and his daughters. And while you’re at it, can you cut all the roots that are in my lawn?” If I had a dime for every time someone asked me that question, I’d be the better looking version of Bill Gates. And if you’re a neighbour who recognizes their fig tree, medlar bush or grape vine do feel free to pop round for a cup of tea or a glass of wine when you serve me with your writ. This is a topic that has been on my mind all summer. Some people assume that if fruit falls from a neighbor's tree and lands on their property, they have the legal right to eat it. Elderflowers for lemonade and fritters and now elderberries (though the birds are heavy on those this year as well), enough blackberries for a portion every day once they started, until November, field mushrooms, damsons, naturalised apples, salad leaves, sloes. It would be impractical for us able to all live as they do in “the good life” but this and example of finding the balance. No. Or maybe not! People were v happy to let us have their fruit when we asked. Can I pick and keep the fruit from overhanging branches? Fruit trees that grow on public land are open to the public. So are Ethical men and women like me allowed to reap this rich harvest? Without the tree owner's consent, the fruit must be returned and cannot be consumed. "I believe once a fruit branch extends over your fence or over the sidewalk, the fruit on that branch is available to the public," was one early response to Davis' post. The comment from One Eyed Owl therefore rings true with me. ... whether you may eat the fruit off branches hanging on your property, and more. If the tree trunk is not on the boundary, the fruit on the tree belongs to the owner of the tree. Not being precious about such things, we always said yes. I live in the rural United States. All Rights Reserved. People have the right to pick this fruit, regardless of whether the tree belongs to them or not. Florida's agricultural economy has been required to co-exist with rapid population and commercial growth in the state over the last twenty-five years. Every autumn I do and see lots of others pick blackberries with the police riding past on their push bikes clearly allowing the law to be flouted!! It seems a shame to let these foods waste. Should the tree or hedge bear fruit that hangs into a neighbour's garden, the neighbour cannot lawfully take the fruit or flowers subject to the Theft Act 1968. Not to survive, as such, but I've been able to do some rural foraging almost every day from late May to the beginning of November this year. As for your daughters, I think it’s great that you take them with you and are trying to impart some ethical living into their upbringing. They never touch the things, which is such a waste. Yet nature’s bounty has remained untouched. And with this in mind, it becomes clear that the responsibility for maintenance or damage caused by overgrowth lies with the owner. With approximately 19,000 livestock farms in the state, along with horse farms; orange groves; croplands of soybeans, sugarcane, cotton, and peanuts; and many other agricultural and livestock facilities, livestock and farming have a significant impact on Florida's economy. For starters, he said it's okay to pick as long as the fruit is in public space. The branches of a neighbor’s tree may hang over onto your property. Sigh...waste! A few branches of Sue’s apple tree extend over the fence and hang above the yard of Sue’s neighbor, Janet. I have no idea what the law says about taking fruit that overhangs, but the general attitude seems to be share and share alike. Yum. I have a healthy tree in my back yard. This is not always the case. I don’t know the laws about fences but I know the way of relationships. Ornamental or landmark trees can have a value of between $20,000 and $60,000. You are wrong, friend, and happily so. In most places no, if its on the outside of the fence, and its on a public area, the tree owner can't stop it. She may trim the branch back to the property line, but the tree owner retains the right to the fruit. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. Is this not the done thing? It's better than letting it go to waste. Surely nature's fruits should be enjoyed by all - even if they were planted by the neighbours. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Excuse me, from which hedges are you plucking figs, grapes and apples? In fact, there are so many suburbs with productive fruit trees in Australia that whole neighbourhoods have set up produce-exchanges. They were unanimous: picking fruit that overhangs a public right of way is not scrumping, it is decidedly ethical and almost certainly legal. Until I actually picked one off the tree and shook the branch to drop more, and the pub owner came out and told me off for not respecting the tree. There's a limit to the number of apple crumbles I can eat and, as they're cooking apples, people seem more hesitant to take them off my hands because they'd have to cook them in some way. I also see this same fruit going to waste and not being picked. Fruit that’s still on your neighbor’s tree belongs to your neighbor, even if the branch it’s attached to is hanging over your property. So what could be more ethical than picking fruit from trees on the streets around my house? The house across the road from us has a very productive nectarine tree overhanging the street. What I really dislike is the buying of masses of food in supermarkets and then wasting half or more. We used to shout for them to come back and help themselves from the fruit we had picked. I asked her whether it was more "respectful" to the tree to have other people step on them and waste them, and then perhaps go to Sainsbury's to buy some walnuts. Go for it, Ethical Man! Under most circumstances, the fruit that grows on a tree belongs to the owner of the tree. Oh but their kids do sometimes enjoy throwing the rotting apples into our garden and at our cat. I live near the bristol bath cycle path and I use it often for fun and exercise. crazy that this is even an issue!I had a'fruit for free' bonanza this summer in which 'excess' fruit from our allotments, friends etc was sold via e-mail groups,among neighbours etc, all money going to a charity supporting sustainable development in Mali (W Africa). Fallen Fruit. And lastly there is a wild grape vine hanging down in a local stores parking lot. Having a neighbor's tree hang into your yard can be annoying. Unfortunately, most people don't take advantage of this. I’ve seen the apples swell to maturity, the wine-dark grapes take on their yeasty bloom and the figs blush purple. a pavement) then it's theft, plain and simple. And good news — if the fruit is found on public land, for example overhanging a footpath, you are well within your rights to pick it. Not quite the same, I know, but where I used to live we had a big holly tree in the front garden. Should I be arrested for stealing those figs and – more heinously – drawing my children into my life of crime? Kudos, I have to say I strongly approve of this. There you should stop. They did learn to come and knock on the door eventually. Any fruit from we have picked from our trees that we are not going to use goes in a cardboard box outside the house with a sign saying "Help Yourself". I hope the police don't catch up to you and your newly criminal daughters, cheers! When planting trees to make the place look green and pleasant, why not plant fruit trees? Hi, I lived in Bath for a while and there was a walnut tree in my area on the boulevard that people paid no attention top, so during the autumn all the walnuts were dropping down and I helped myself all the time. Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. Please join in - read our guide to posting comments, or send us an email. Not only does this beautify the city, but many, as you would imagine, are fruit trees and here one may legally pick any fruit that protrudes beyond the boundaries of private property - even agricultural orchards. So compost the toerags. That fruit overhanging into your property does belong to you, at least in Hawaii. This is anomalous: On one hand, you can’t legally pick up and eat the fruit but, on the other hand, your neighbors can’t legally enter your land and retrieve it. Few things taste better than homegrown fruit picked ripe from a tree. More investigation was needed. So is the law right? Remember, properly installing and maintaining your fence saves you money and avoids stress. There are usually olive and lemon trees planted out on nature strips (the bit of public land between the houses and the road in most Aussie suburbs). Good job on this piece. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, The Vermont Institute For Government: The Law of Trees, "Naple News: Two Charged With Picking Fruit From Naples Resident's Tree", CES: Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden. Do you even have a sign asking people not to pick the fruit, or reminding people that the tree is your tree and not a municipal planting to beautify the public trail? The street side always had less fruit on it as passers by helped themselves, but we had so much fruit on the garden side of the fence we didn't care. Every autumn I see so many gardens with trees and bushes bearing fruit that is never harvested, so it's great that someone is reaping the benefit. “The owner or tenant of any land is entitled to cut off branches which overhang or roots which penetrate from his neighbour's hedge, as long as he does it on his side of the boundary.” Although the cuttings do remain the property of the hedge owner. If you do, you may be liable for damages. Just remember to pick fruits more than the height of a dog above the pavement... Vote 1 for the right to pick stuff that grows over/on public access land. Would it be ethical then to poach on my neighbour's unprotected wireless internet signal which makes its way through the wall of our adjoining houses? I can come and help? If my neighbor owns a fruit tree, and the branches hang over my property, can I eat the fruit? My neighbor asks us to pick them but we don't for the rambutan harvested from our own trees are more juicy and delicious. I don't see any problem with people picking fruit off trees. Is there any legal difference between picking fruit from a hedge surrounding an urban property and from one surrounding a farm, which has always seemed to be acceptable? I thought she was a busybody and talking rubbish so I just continued to pick the walnuts. But budding film-makers beware: “almost certainly legal” is not enough for Newsnight. They were unanimous: picking fruit that overhangs a public right of way is not scrumping, it is decidedly ethical and almost certainly legal. It has been there all summer and finally is full of fruit that could be picked at any time. I am so glad I found this discussion. I turned to BTCV – the organization formerly known as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. You can cut branches and/or roots back up to the limit of your property, your garden fence, say. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Some people assume that if fruit falls from a neighbor's tree and lands on their property, they have the legal right to eat it. But when the intruder brings mangos and other fruits, it may be a welcome visitor. Fruit-picking laws protect tree owners who have put time and effort into growing their own fruit. Many a time I have picked blackberries from bushes along paths for my mum to make crumble with. Can you cut them back to their side? 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