Sady Żoliborskie is an unusual park, created on the site of a former orchard. The fruit trees growing there are one of the symbols of the district. But also – a source of neighborly conflict. This year’s fruiting brought another installment.
Fruit picking is a grassroots initiative involving the joint collection of fallen and ripe fruit from trees growing in the park. Rebounds are becoming more and more popular. Apples and pears are sent, among others, to the zoo. Of course, you can also take them home.
At least so far it had seemed to be possible. The park has been in dispute for a long time. Some elderly residents in the area have complained that falling fruit makes the sidewalks slippery and unsafe. There were even ideas to get rid of fruit trees from Sady Żoliborskie. It was in response to these voices that the idea of collecting fruit together emerged.
But on Thursday afternoon, the organizer of the collections, the initiative Owocowe Sady Żoliborskie, informed on Facebook that the district office banned the organization of fruit picking. According to the residents, the officials not only issued a ban, but also informed that the participants of the action may “reckon with the intervention of the police and even the prosecutor’s office”.
“Why? Because they are flooded with calls from dissatisfied residents! When asked who is it? Older residents of nearby blocks of flats. In their opinion, the fruit was STOLEN AND unlawfully EXPORTED … The fruit remained in Sady and got dirty – it was WRONG. wasted – it is also WRONG … “- those who want to pick fruit write.
At the same time, they accuse officials of ignoring the results of public consultations, in which 96 per cent of residents stated that they “want fruit trees and use their benefits”.
“There is no prohibition”
Donata Wancel, spokeswoman for the Żoliborz district, commented on the information posted by the association. In an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl, she firmly denied that the district prohibits fruit picking. – We only asked to inform the district office about organizing such collections, because more and more people gather there. We need to know about it and agree to such an organized action – said Wancel. – There is no ban on picking fruit – she emphasized.
She also announced that the district is the manager of the park and must take care of the well-being of trees. – Organized groups with landing nets and tools come there and they intervene in the trees. They often leave a mess, trees have broken branches. We would like to prevent this. We want there to be a person responsible for these types of events and to ensure that the stand is not interfered with and that it is not damaged. Therefore, we only ask that they inform us about such events. As all other groups that want to organize something in the parks in Żoliborz inform us, the Wancel said.
She also denied that the district office announced police interventions against people organizing fruit harvesting. – Some residents do not like the fact that these trees are sometimes destroyed during these actions. It is these residents who inform us that if these actions are not agreed with the office, I will direct reports to the police. We only informed what signals were reaching us – emphasized Wancel.
– We want to put this matter in order so that these actions are reported to us and approved by us – declared a spokeswoman for Żoliborz. – We support activities such as harvesting, but the point is to cooperate and act together, not arbitrarily – she added.
The dispute over trees
The dispute over fruit trees at the Sady Żoliborskie estate has been going on since 2019. In November, we informed that 34 trees had gone under the ax. The district obtained the marshal’s consent to cut 41. Then the inhabitants of Żoliborz – fearing that the park would lose its unique character – protested against the logging. They collected 1,500 signatures for a petition to preserve the “fruit heritage”. As a result, seven trees were saved. The Office argued then that the logging permit covered those in a bad “phytosanitary condition: with residual or withered crowns, progressive decay and decay of wood”. On the other hand, older residents of the estate complained about rotting fruit lying on the ground, on which it is easy to slip.
Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl