Guerrilla Grafters covertly add fruit-tree branches to ornamental trees

The Guerrilla Grafters are a group of rogue artists who roam San Francisco, covertly grafting fruit-tree branches onto ornamental trees to create a municipal free lunch. John Robb calls it "resilient disobedience."

How can you improve the productivity of your community even if the officials are against it?

One way is through resilient disobedience. For example, there’s a group of gardeners in San Francisco that are spreading organic graffiti across the city. How? By grafting branches from fruit trees onto ornamental trees that have been planted along sidewalks and in parks.

They are using a very simple tongue in groove splice that’s held together with annotated electrical tape. Good luck to them.

Personal Biochar Kilns, Portable Factories, DiY Septic Tank Cleaning, and Guerrilla Grafting (via Warren Ellis)


  1. So, if a graft turns productive, and somebody climbs up on a box to pick a pear and falls on their face, will the guerilla grafters help with the attractive nuisance lawsuit?

    1. They have already helped with it. OK, in that exact scenario the litigious entitled whiner refusing to take responsibility for their own safety survived the fall. But you have to expect some of them will not :)

    2. So, Michael, I guess you’d like the location of these trees so you can make some easy lawsuit money?  Way to be a schmuck. The rest of the world is not as a$$h0le-ish as you might think.

      1.  Some people Are like that. I was in a small community church (in Australia) that met in a school hall, but the insurance costs were just getting silly, so we talked about meeting in people’s homes. Everyone thought it was a good idea and was happy to commit to all being personally responsible for their safety and that of their kids, except for one guy who stated that he would sue anyone if something happened to him. We all knew him as being quite a hard guy to be friends with, but he killed that church group.

    1. Rats totally live in cities for the fruit trees.  Has nothing to do with garbage, sewage, water systems and litter. 

      1. Actually, SF does have a problem with tree rats, at least in the neighborhoods with a lot of trees.

    1. This is fantastic all around. Ignore anyone who says otherwise. If you are from CA, you know that fruit trees are all around. A few branches of fruit on non-fruit trees doesn’t hurt ANYONE.

    1. I though that sticking to the same species is necessary for the graft to survive – grafting e.g. pear onto an apple tree tends to fail.

      Though even if it wasn’t necessary, it would be a good policy – if the city has planted ornamental apples, edible apples are no more or less messy, so no additional maintenance requirement is added.

    2. That’s crucial.  If the fruit isn’t harvested, it’s just going to serve as a disease vector for agricultural diseases.  On top of this, many fruit trees have been bred to bear more fruit than they can support.  If you don’t prune an apple or a peach for example, its branches will split from the fruit loads.  That split can become infected, and kill the whole tree.

  2. And if you’re going to hear about illegal graft in the city, this is probably the best possible kind to hear.   

  3. And when the steward moves away?  It sounds cool in concept but perhaps falls short in reality.  Fruit trees overhanging sidewalks are NOT such a great idea.  If the fruit isn’t gathered, it makes a slippery mess on the sidewalk.  Fruit trees attract yellow jackets and those of us who are allergic don’t appreciate that.  Do they REALLY know what they are doing or are they compromising the health of the trees?  

     It just sounds a bit half baked to me. 

    1. If it becomes problematic, do you think anyone has the technology to remove the branch?  Some sort of technical ungrafting procedure from a registered tree surgeon? 

      It’s not that complicated, it’s been done for a thousands of years, and doesn’t convert the whole tree to an edible fruit bearing tree. Not that much fruit.

    2. We sent a man to the moon, but growing fruit trees in the city is absolutely out of the question, on account of the risks.

      1. It must be tough for grape farmers. Tough like a salmon trying to get upstream in nothern california.

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