BOULDER, Colo. — If you like fresh fruits and vegetables, this is a great time of year. And now you don’t need an apple tree or a garden to get a free taste. All you need is a smartphone and a sense of adventure thanks to a new, local nonprofit intent on mapping all of the food growing around the world.
The website fallingfruit.org acts as a sort of Wikipedia for edible plants, becoming a place for foragers around the world to post entries about fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts that are ripe for the taking.
Co-founders Caleb Phillips and Ethan Welty have been foraging around Boulder for years, and they continue to get questions and stunned responses when they begin picking berries and fruit on the University of Colorado campus and around town.
“Every time I’m out I’ll typically blow somebody’s mind,” Welty said.
In 2013, the two decided to create a searchable map, using public tree databases and other listings submitted by users.
“Just trying to make it as accessible to as many people as possible,” Welty said.
Since starting fallingfruit.org, the two have seen it grow to nearly 800,000 entries across 1,500 cities in 50 countries.
“We don’t make money when people use it. We just want people to use it because it’s fun,” Phillips said.
The site has generated so much traffic that they recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a new app and expanded servers. The app is available for $4.99 on Android and Apple devices.
Welty and Phillips said they want to help connect people to the world of food right around them. They also want to prevent so much food from falling to the ground and going to waste or worse, especially in Boulder.
“There’s actually a concern that the apples attract bears,” Welty said.
It’s just one reason why the two say their idea is growing faster than they ever imagined.
“There’s a huge potential that we’re not tapping into,” Welty said.