Here's something that should become a new Christmas tradition. On Boxing Day--that's the day after Christmas, right?--Judy Ciela and I gathered with a group of parents and kids and strangers to pick oranges and grapefruits off trees. Citrus trees are all over the valley, with lots of homes having two or three in their yards. Because we water the Noah out of our plants...because we can, dammit...these trees produce a lot of fruit. Most people can't make use of even a tenth of the oranges. But there are plenty of homeless shelters that can, so we pick fruit and take the boxes and bags (literally tons of fruit) to the shelters.
In addition, Phoenix has started to see the infiltration of roof rats in the last few years. These little guys like vitamin C and also like to live in attics. Trees with lots of fruit hanging just over the roof make for a very appealing little roof rat estate. Picking the fruit from the trees helps keep the population under control. Everyone one wins--except for the roof rats. Poor little rodents.
We picked close to 3000 pounds the day I was there, and that was mostly in one yard. I'm astounded to think how much is out there that probably gets landfilled.
In any case, I'm enjoying my fresh squeezed orange juice these mornings. I think everyone should do this on the day after Christmas. Do oranges grow in Chicago?