About smart cities, maps, and fruits

Mapping and collecting data for resilient sustainable cities does not always need to be ‘smart’. As per its Wikipedia definition, a smart city is a “technologically modern urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect specific data”. Still, beyond high-tech, a local resources and community approach can already help. In this sense, several Swedish cities have put in place the Smarta Kartan initiative. Although the name means literally ‘the Smart Map’, the whole is rather based on sharing and participation than on cutting edge technology. Originated by the collaboration of the non -profit association Kollaborativ Ekonomi Sverige ( then Gothenburg ) and the City of Gothenburg, the project includes now also the municipalities of Gävle, Gothenburg, Karlstad, Malmö, Stockholm, and Umeå. The idea behind these platforms is to make it easier for local residents to find and take part in sharing initiatives in their cities, and thus encouraging community building and access over ownership for sustainable consumptionOn the maps one can find ways to rent, exchange, borrow, give and receive at, among other things, bicycle ‘kitchens’ (community workshops), exchange groups, open offices, carpools, loan points and various digital platforms.

Among the latter is yet another map: Fruktkartan (The Fruit Map). As an open database of fruit trees on public spaces and parks, anyone can easily add the location of new trees. In addition, the information is freely available for other sites and apps to use. Fruktkartan covers mainly Swedish urban areas, specially in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, where one can harvest pears, apples, plums, chestnuts or strawberries, among other fruits and nuts. But if you ever fancy a fresh fruit near the Polar Circle, a couple of trees are also mapped there. Similarly, Hackney Harvest also displays a map of fruit trees in that borough of London. Although the organisation behind appears now to be inactive, they seemed to have taken a step further by actively collecting and transforming the fruits – in collaboration with private owners, as well – and organising educational and people’s kitchen events with the harvest. On the other side of the Athlantic, in Los Angeles, the artist duo Fallen Fruit has been organising Public Fruit Jams for nearly 20 years. Usually held in a gallery or museum, in these events everyone is invited to come with home grown or street-picked fruit and make ‘experimental’ (still edible) jam together.  In parallel they host the Endless Orchard platform, encouraging planting and mapping fruit trees in front of homes, businesses, schools, or community centres.

Without a fruit map, but with a similar vision of community building around urban harvesting, Solon in the Rosemont borough of Montreal aims to develop a support network in urban agriculture. It connects residents looking for trees to harvest and for urban gardening land, with their neighbors who own land and are searching for someone to cultivate it. Isn’t that smart?

Image: Screenshot from Fallen Fruits website https://fallenfruit.org/projects/public-fruit-maps/ (26.04.2023)