So what is a food forest?! Simply, it is a perimeter, usually U shaped, of trees with veggies growing in the hot less windy protected center area. If done like nature, it is seamless, with low veggies, then shrubs, then understory trees, then the taller trees. You can’t tell where one ‘layer’ begins or ends. In sustainable style, the trees are for wood or food, like nut trees, multi variety grafted dwarf fruit trees, native elderberry. The shrubs might be native hollyleaf cherries, blueberries or a thicket of black berries, roses for rose hips, currants, guavas, rosemary. Many times, people have been in flourishing native gardens and not even known it.
Beacon Food Forest is using land donated by Seattle Public Utilities, and has a $100,000 grant from the city. Glenn Herlihy, one of the creators, says the forest could eventually produce “quite a bit of food,” and he hopes it will be a place where the community can come together. The forest will include a teaching space, conventional community gardening plots, a barbecue spot, and recreational areas.
Set to become the nation’s largest forageable space, it will cover seven acres within city limits, offering FREE FOOD, everything from plum, apple, and walnut trees, to berry bushes, herbs and vegetables.
Herlihy hopes visitors will practice “ethical harvesting”–taking what they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling greedy, there will be a “thieves garden” containing lower-grade stuff. “We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff,” he adds.
The Video! Beacon Food Forest, in turn, has inspired London’s Mabley Green, close by the Olympic Park, to create their own food forest of fruit and nut trees with vegetables, raspberries and herbs on the forest floor. The latest news I could find on that was dated Mar 10, 2014 – the project has been approved to the tune of £860,000, that’s $1,445,942 US! They want it to be the world’s largest “edible park!” Chairman of the user group, Damian Rafferty, says the edible garden would help tackle childhood obesity rates, of which Hackney has some of the worst in London. “We also want Hackney mums to be able to say to the children, ‘Run to the park and pick some apples for the tea.’ It’s about bringing a bit of rural into an urban area.”
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb