City Foraging: food forest

April 20, 2012

Food foraging is trendy, but Seattle is taking it to the next level with a food forest. Find out exactly what that means here.

We know food foraging is a huge trend, even in cities, as well as gardening and harvesting honey on rooftops, but Washington State is taking it to the next level. In the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle, a group is planning a two-acre public food forest (eventually seven acres) to be cultivated in the middle of the city. Residents and even non-residents will be able to pick fruit and more from plants throughout the forest for free.

Glenn Herlihy helped create the park's initial design as a final project for a permaculture design class. Natural fertilization from decaying vegetation, and a variety of plants that all work together will be planted; plants that attract and deter insects will also be planted for natural pest management. Developers will use edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals to accomplish this.

Seattle residents will have to wait until 2013 for the first harvest. The fruit trees and shrubs will take about two years to produce fruit. The land will be planted with apple trees, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, walnuts, hazelnuts, rosemary and much more. Designers are planning for overzealous pickers – and think there will be more than enough food growing to go around.

The nearly two-acre test zone is to be planted by the end of the year, and if deemed successful by the city, the remaining five acres will be converted to food trees. The hope is that the park will become a congregating area for the diverse residents of the neighborhood, a place where all ages and ethnicities can meet. If successful maybe cities across the country will follow suit.