Proper Etiquette: On Sharing Neighborhood Fruit Trees

There's one other thread to our tale of the quince tree: our neighbor hasn't had a chance to eat them in years. Why? Because in the middle of the night just when the quinces get ripe, all the fruits mysteriously disappear...

The fruit tree is in our neighbor's front lawn and clearly visible from the sidewalk. However, it's set pretty far back from the street, so this unknown quince poacher actually has to come onto private property in order to pick the quinces.

Here's where we get into some shady territory with the issue of neighborhood fruit trees (and bushes). Personally, we feel that if a tree or bush growing on private property extends branches over public property (like a sidewalk) or into an adjacent private property, it's fair game for those with access. But we draw the line at actually stepping onto private property in order to get at the goods.

Actually, the issue here isn't so much that our neighbor is unwilling to share her quince tree or even that this person is coming onto her property (though she's not exactly thrilled with that!). It's more that this person a) doesn't ask permission and b) takes every edible quince on the tree. And does this year after year. We don't think that's very neighborly!

We'd like to help our neighbor, an elderly woman, rescue enough quinces for a batch of her family's quince jam, and we've started by hanging the sign in the picture above from the front-facing branches of the tree. It simply says that we'd be happy to share the quinces, but please ask permission before picking so we have enough for everyone.

Do you think this will work? What other suggestions do you have (besides camping out with a lawn chair for the next several weeks)?

Related: Good Food with Evan Kleiman: Dinner Parties and the Etiquette of Ingredient Confession

(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)