The Strategy Behind the “FruitFence Orchard”, a guest blog by Chacha Sikes

“Lemons are Everywhere” a guest blog by Chacha Sikes, co-creator of the game Lemonopoly. Experience Lemonopoly in-person as part of the Come Out & Play SF Festival on Saturday & Sunday, December 1 & 2, 12–5pm. Click here for festival details.

There is a Mini Lemon Tree Orchard installed near the garden at SOMArts as part of the Come Out and Play Festival & Exhibition.

The appearance of this FruitFence Orchard is not just green and lovely, but also is a ‘strategic game move’ for the new urban agriculture game for the Bay Area, Lemonopoly. Those trees earn San Francisco points to beat Oakland!

In Lemonopoly, players participate in lemony challenges, and then submit photo evidence to get points for their city team. Some challenges are worth more points, because they are more difficult, and more important to the overall health of the local lemon economy.

The Lemonopoly site lists many challenges, including sharing lemons with neighbors, making lemony goods, planting new trees, or spotting rotting lemons on the sidewalk. The game started in September 2012, and this round of play continues through late spring 2013.

Team San Francisco will get a big point boost for completing the “Install a Mini Lemon Orchard” challenge.

Lemonopoly Scores
As of November 26, 2012

SAN JOSE                6830
BERKELEY              5170
OAKLAND                1700
SAN FRANCISCO   880

Lemon Independence
The goal of Lemonopoly is to achieve Lemon Independence by helping Bay Area residents to socialize around lemons. The game emphasizes Lemoncraft, Agriculture and Trade.

Lemon Independence happens when we can supply ourselves with local lemons – and achieve lemon sustainability. This is an achievable goal.

There are already several thousand lemon trees in San Francisco alone. Several varieties of lemons do well here, including the Improved Meyer Lemon. If San Francisco cultivated 10,000 more trees, the entire population could supplement their diet with the national average of three pounds of lemons per person, per year. In fact, San Francisco already has a non-profit, Just One Tree that is working to make this goal a reality.

These lemon trees could be planted in parks, vacant lots, and along greenways. Lemon trees also grow well in containers, making it possible for apartment dwellers to have small, but productive, fruit trees.

Growing these trees might take a while, but there’s good news for those of you who want immediate results. Many of the trees in our neighborhoods already have such abundances of lemons, that the lemons often go to waste. If we could share our lemons more often, more people might get to experience fresh and local lemons. Lemonopoly helps to break the ice between neighbors, to allow new social interactions to happen around sharing local fruit.

San Francisco’s Game Plan
San Francisco’s first move this weekend was to install a small lemon orchard. There will also be some games in the park on both days of the Come Out and Play festival, which will also help to provide San Francisco with more players and more proof that San Francisco deserves to wield the title of The Big Lemon.

Why Lemons?
Lemons are a versatile fruit. They are the only fruit that is available year-round, and they combine well with many other foods. They are also relatively easy to grow, and 3-4 year old trees can produce fruit. Lemons stay on the tree for a lot longer than other fruits, which means that fruits are fresher for longer, and also that they will not drop all of their fruit at once and make a terrible, gelatinous mess (Plums are guilty of this.) Lemon tree leaves are evergreen, and the blossoms have a beautiful jasmine scent, and delicate purple and white flowers.

About the Fruit Fence Planters
FruitFences are clip-on planters for city fences, tailored especially for fruit. A web-based communication system allows for distributed care of community orchards.

These planters were prototyped for the Urban Prototyping Festival in San Francisco in October 2012. Inspired by the AgBags project, these planters are especially adapted to help sustain small fruit trees and bushes for growth in the underutilized space provided by the many fences of a city.  To learn more about the planters, and make your own pop-up lemon orchard, visit www.fruitfence.us.

Punch Lemon
One of the planters presents a new Lemon game called “Punch Lemon.” Similar to “PunchBuggy,” every time you spot a lemon tree in the Bay Area, you can punch a friend. This game is pretty easy to play when walking down the street, because, it turns out, lemons are everywhere.

About Lemonopoly
Lemonopoly was created by Chacha Sikes, Anselm Hook, and Booka Alon. Check out the website, join a city team, and keep playing Lemonopoly! lemonopoly.org | @Lemonopoly.

Commissioned by ZERO1 with support from the James Irvine Foundation and presented in collaboration with SOMArts Cultural Center and the Come Out & Play Festival.