Seattle's First Urban Food Forest Will Be Open To Foragers
The idea is to give members of the working-class neighborhood of Beacon Hill the chance to pick plants scattered throughout the park – dubbed the . It will feature fruit-bearing perennials — apples, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, raspberries and more.
Herlihy and a team first assembled their vision of a food forest in 2009 as a final project for a design class.
If all goes well in the food forest's 2-acre trial plot, the whole 7-acre park will look something like this.
Courtesy of Glenn Herlihy
After some community outreach, local support came pouring in for the idea. Herlihy and the community group received a $22,000 grant to hire a certified designer for the project.
A local utility, Seattle Public Utilities, offered up the 7-acre plot, which could make it the largest, urban food forest on public land in the U.S., Glenn Herlihy, a steering committee member for the project, tells The Salt.
The group is currently working with $100,000 in seed money to set up the first phase: a 1.75-acre test zone to be planted by the end of the year. After a few years, if that section is deemed successful by the city, the remaining acreage will be converted to food trees.
Of course, any "free" food source begs the question of what to do with overzealous pickers. No definitive answer on how to handle that predicament has been established yet, though. According to Herlihy, the only solutions right now are to produce an abundance of fruit so there's enough for everyone and to embed "thieves' gardens" with extra plants in the park for those people eager to take more than their share.
For now, getting the park on its feet and drawing neighbors to its bushy terrain ranks highest on the totem pole of goals, Herlihy says. He hopes that the park will become a congregating area for the diverse residents of the neighborhood. "There's Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipinos, and Africans in the area. The Beacon Food Forest is a place where all ages and ethnicities can meet."
Eventually, garden plots in the forest will be available to lease to gardeners for $10 a year. Also, Herlihy says they hope to educate community members on the benefits of permaculture.
"It's a food system being developed in a neighborhood that's looking for more self-reliance," he says. "It's getting people together by having a common denominator: soil."
Read more at Seattle plans for a city park with edible plants - free for anyone and everyone
Forget meadows. Forget grass. Forget sterile, monotone parks with no plant diversity. Seattle’s vision of an urban oasis is becoming more and more a reality: a seven-acre plot of land will be covered with hundreds of different kinds of edible plants: walnut and chestnut trees, blueberry and raspberry shrubs, apples, pears, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, herbs, and many, many more. I have just one question now… why hasn’t this been done before ?!
“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project, tells ZME Science. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.The concept of a food forest, which will be available for anyone and everyone is not only very pleasant and useful for the people, but it is very sustainable, much like a forest is in the wild. You just have to be careful when designing this ecosystem and not mess anything up – because it’s not just about the plants. You have to craft the relationships which occur in nature, like bees pollinating, ants, birds eating the insects, and many more:
“The concept means we consider the soils, companion plants, insects, bugs—everything will be mutually beneficial to each other,” says Harrison.
I’m just sold! But it gets even better: they asked for permission and the voluntary help of the people in the neighborhood. They valued their input so much, that not only were flyers planted at every single household, but they were also translated into the native language of each inhabitant; and this is very good, because after all, who will benefit the most from this initiative?
“Anyone and everyone,” says Harrison. “There was major discussion about it. People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season, then it means we’re successful.”Read more at Seattle plans for a city park with edible plants - free for anyone and everyone