Photos courtesy of Sonya Dublin
Sonya Dublin admits she’s obsessed with making jam. She’s lived in the Bay Area for 20 years and always had gardens and been interested in sustainable farming. However, she is new to “jamming.” Two years ago, Dublin moved to Berkeley where a 75-year-old apricot tree in her backyard “rained apricots.” Riding her bike through the neighborhood, Dublin said she “saw fruit everywhere” - on trees that were under-harvested and overproducing in parks, empty lots and people’s yards. Usually the fallen fruit was rotting.
She set out to find balance between the unused and wasted fruit and the abundance of local available fruit. Dublin went on line and found the most efficient and delicious way to move large volumes of fruit quickly was to make jam and 510 Fruits was born.
“My experience has been about just seeing what’s always been around me," Dublin said. "And seeing the bounty that exists in my own neighborhood and building relationships within the community, to share the resources."
Dublin added it’s much more than just making jam. It’s acknowledging how much fruit one tree produces and how the yield is so much more than one family can use. Dublin said during summer and fall, she can fill a five gallon bucket from one pear or apricot tree, for “easily 10 days.”
She said when she spots a tree in someone’s yard that’s dropping fruit, she leaves a note in the mailbox asking if she can pick some and make them jam. She labels each jar with the street name where the fruit grew. She said it’s a wonderful way to meet and get to know neighbors.
What Dublin loves about foraging is the thrill of discovery, sharing the neighborhood harvest and the bonds that are created within the community.
Dublin stressed she makes jam because she loves making jam, not to make money. At this point she’s not interested in selling the jams at farmers markets or stores. She said her relationship to the process is that of “desire, love and fun.”
Each jar sells for $7 to $10, but Dublin said she’s flexible on pricing and welcomes donations and exchanging through a trade basis. She said she just needs enough money to cover the cost of jars and pectin. Even so, there is a demand. Last fall, she sold about 250 jars in one week, after sending out one email that was forwarded by her friends.
Dublin is planning to resume foraging in the fall when the pears and apples begin ripening. Dublin said the late spring rains slowed down the local harvest and gave her the opportunity to explore some nearby “pick your own” farms such as Farmer’s Daughter and Pease Ranch in Brentwood and Phipps and Coastways Ranch in Pescadero.
Dublin makes “local forage” jams from the fruit growing in her neighborhood and “local harvest” jams from fruit picked at local farms.
She spends about three to four hours a week during summer and fall jamming and said she finds the experience grounding. She likes “having her hands in the fruit of the earth” and the fact that it brings her and others happiness.
510 Fruits jams are full organic fruit with no added sugar and no preservatives. Dublin said they’re delicious straight from the jar, on toast, in yogurt or as tart filling. She advised the jams can be stored for up to a year; she only adds pectin, which bonds with the natural sugars to thicken the jam.