Etiquette for picking a neighbor's apple tree?

apples in treeJeff asked a question in a recent comment that we thought was worth highlighting:

What is the etiquette on picking an apple from a neighbor's tree? I am only wave-at friendly with the occupants, but they have a very nice apple tree in their front yard that never gets picked.

On one hand... You should always ask. It's your neighbor's tree and your neighbor's apples. It'd be like going into someone else's garden and taking tomatoes or flowers. Also: It's the polite thing to do.

On the other... If no one's picking the apples, and they're literally falling off the tree and spilling onto the sidewalk as often happens, then what's the harm? Maybe you picking one or two or a few is a good thing.

This isn't a super important question, obviously, But we're always interested in questions about being good neighbors. So we're curious to hear your thoughts.


Pick the apples! Anyone who has an apple tree in their yard KNOWS that every single one of those apples that falls is a pain in the butt to deal with. And they really start to smell, too.

Asking is always the right thing to do, especially if you are actually picking off the tree, not just picking up from a public sidewalk. Also, it's a nice gesture to give a gift of apple pie or applesauce or apple butter to the property owner as a thank you. It'll form a bond and they are likely to look forward to you gleaning from their tree in years to come.

I might even go to far as to approach a neighbor with a fruit tree in their yard that seems unutilized and offer a "sharecropping" proposition: they get half the fruit or whatever you are making with the fruit. I would only harvest what you can easily reach -- don't use ladders. Home owners will be uneasy about liability there.

Always ask especially if this involves going on to their property which sounds like the case in this particular situation. I really like chrisck's idea of a sharecropping prop... win/win for both parties!

We had a situation in Troy recently where someone was literally hopping their neighbor's fence and picking the fruit off of their trees without permission. Obviously there were boundary issues with the person that was doing this but it ended up snowballing into a larger neighborhood spat that turned into one of those "Only In Troy" bad press situations. (Insert #TroyCrazy or #OneTroyBadApple jokes here...)

It's not that hard to ask. You should know your neighbors anyway, right?

That said, I grab apples from empty houses or empty lots in the neighborhood all the time. Once you start really looking, you'll find more trees than you have time to glean from.

Ask! We've been waiting for 5 years for our trees to produce and I would be so sad if someone picked them before we did.

What a great opportunity to strike up a conversation and develop a deeper relationship with your neighbor. Don't just sneak on their land and take some apples. Instead, take the chance to speak to them and find out what's going on with the tree, their lives, whatever...

Oh wow... Ask. Like others have said, it seems like an easy way to become friendlier with your neighbors. If you don't ask then I feel like you'll quickly become the neighbors who sneak onto their property to steal their fruit. Also, imagine how awkward if DIDNT ask and were out there picking apples and they stepped outside and caught you. What would you say? "Umm, I didn't think you would mind...?" So, if you don't think they would mind in the first place there's no risk in asking.

"...what's the harm? Maybe you picking one or two or a few is a good thing."

What's the harm? THEY'RE NOT YOUR APPLES. That's the harm.

Don't take what's not yours, it's not a good thing. If your neighbor wants rotting apples all over their property, it's their business. NOT YOURS.

Hey, All Over Albany, maybe I should walk in the front door of your offices and take some paper clips and printer paper, and any other consumables you'll never miss.

After all, what's the harm?

uhm, get permission!!

also, not that anyone uses them in the area, but there are a number of apps for this sort of thing

just google app for shared fruit trees*

*i don't develop or have any financial interest in any of these apps, just thought it was a cool thing they do out west

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