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Foraging for food in downtown Seattle

permaculture food forest

Foraging, or gathering edibles from wild plants, is something you do in rural or undeveloped places, right? Hardly a solution for urbanites looking for fresh food (unless you plan to eat a lot of dandelions). Well, not exactly: we’ve already seen how food justice advocates in Syracuse, New York have planned a forest garden just for such activity. In Seattle, community activists are planning something similar, but much bigger: when complete, the Beacon Food Forest will cover seven acres smack dab in the middle of the city, and be open to all.

As in Syracuse, this project’s in its early stages. Project participants have raised funding for the first stage, a 1.75 acre test garden that will be planted by the end of the year. If that works out, they’ll move on to the rest of space. The final vision (which, of course, will take years to complete) includes fruit and berry trees and bushes from which nearby residents can pick, individual gardening plots that can be rented, and a green space that the very diverse surrounding community can use for gatherings and recreation.

Of course, people have identified potential problems. What do you do about those individuals who go in and gather everything they can find, leaving nothing for others. On the flip side, what if fruit doesn’t get picked: won’t that be kind of gross? They’ve got time to work such matters out, and are already coming up with solutions. I’m still entranced by the novelty of this idea: while humans have always foraged, I have a hard time thinking of spaces planned just for gathering food (for free, anyway – and “u pick” farms usually aren’t based on permaculture principles).

Know of other plans along these lines? Or of existing food forests open to the public? Let us know about them.

via NPR and @forageSF

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Image credit: London Permaculture via photo pin cc