Public Food Forests

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= "What if edible, drought-friendly, habitat-creating public landscapes were prioritized"? [1]



By Made Local:

"They are spreading both locally and nationally. Food justice advocates like Ron Finley, best known for spreading the gospel of urban gardens in Los Angeles, have championed public food forests as a way to increase the consumption of healthy foods, food security, and an appreciation for nature and plants in urban and suburban neighborhoods. In Washington, an unruly seven-acre parcel of city land owned by Seattle Public Utilities was transformed into the Beacon Food Forest, the largest of its kind in the nation, where the community can learn about greywater systems, medicinal plants, pruning, and cooking. In addition, low-income families are able to gather herbs and other necessities for their meals, and surplus vegetables and fruit are donated to the local food bank.

This is an entirely new way of using public land. As Heckman puts it, “What are nature’s operating instructions and how can we apply them to how we work in our public landscapes? Let’s food forest our world to meet our needs for food, medicine, habitat, community—to reduce our resource use, to address climate change and drought, and to create a nature connection.”


A food forest mimics a typical woodland ecosystem with layers of trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers, but, in this case, almost everything is edible.


According to Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier, a true food forest is resilient, diverse, functionally connected, self-renewing, self-fertilizing, solar-powered, and rich in food, habitat, and herbal medicine. It’s a way of getting out from under what they term a “monoculture mindset,” in which elements in a system don’t connect to each other. Food forests emphasize cooperation between all elements." (