Food forestry has recently inspired me to rethink potential food production sites. Excitedly envisioning small parks and green spaces in our small South Western Ontario City, turned into food forests . This is a fairly new concept that is taking off in places like Boston, New York and Madrid. Great examples are Beacon Food Forest Permaculture Project Seattle, Washington and Del Aire Fruit Park Hawthorne, California.
Food forests provide a fairly easy and cheap community initiative compared to community gardens. Food forestry is centered around the fruit tree, creating a guild of plants. A guild in permaculture is the grouping of plants, insects and animals to work together which helps ensure survival.
The fruit trees can be peach, plum, apple etc and the surrounding plants support the tree. There are 5 functions a plant can perform within the fruit tree guild: (1.) Nitrogen Fixers ( 2.) Insect Attractors (3.) Mulch Makers (4.) Insect Detractors (5.) Dynamic Accumulators.
Food forests provide an excellent opportunity for the community both young and old to rethink green spaces. To see them as potential food production sites.
1. Care for the earth
2. Care for people
3. Share the wealth
As a seasoned volunteer, I have found long lasting community connections volunteering with food projects. Food is a fundamental commonality regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture age and flag. Over the years I have volunteered in the capacity that fit my lifestyle/interests and community needs at that time. Food and the protection of the planet are at the top of my list these days. There is an evident degradation of affordable good food choices. Many are growing food without the interference of large corporations and their for profit agendas. We can do this together in very small ways that can have a large impact. A perennial food forest requires very little maintenance once established. Outside spending a couple of hours each week clearing trash and watering etc, there are very little administrative tasks.
The food forest utilizes small space gardening concepts to maximize the yield with minimal effort. Without the same square footage or volunteer crew requirements as a community garden, the food forest is therefore accessible to a wider range of green spaces. A food forest requires very little inputs, only stewardship.
Food forestry can be a great educational resource for the community and community gatherings. The food garden has the potential to offer seating areas, a cob oven and a greenhouse. These spaces encourage the community to come together in a dialogue about long term, sustainable food solutions.