The Urban Food Forest: A Groundbreaking Trend in Urban Agriculture

Reader Contribution by Kelsey Mcclelland
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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk down to your neighborhood park and come home with a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables? In one California park that vision is becoming a reality.  In Los Angeles County, Del Aire Park has become the first public fruit park in California. The collective known as Fallen Fruit consolidated with Los Angeles County to help create this urban orchard, which features 27 fruit trees, eight grapevines and an herb garden.

One of the artists of Fallen Fruit said that Boston, New York and Madrid are some of the cities also experimenting with public gardens. These urban orchards are sprouting up — if you’ll forgive the pun — all over the country.  

In Washington, development is underway on a 7-acre public plot of land in the middle of Seattle. Known as the Beacon Food Forest, the park is well on its way to becoming the largest, public food forest in the United States.

In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) plants orchards around the city in vacant lots, community gardens, school yards and other spaces, mostly in low-income neighborhoods where people have little access to fresh produce. Working with community groups and volunteers, POP provides the equipment and the training, and the community organizations maintain the garden.  

These edible landscapes bring communities closer together by giving residents ownership and a stake in these parks. Community members are responsible for tending to and harvesting the public fruit.  

Hopefully in the near future, urban food forests will play an important role as sustainable local food systems in their communities.

For more information on planning a public fruit garden in your city, visit the American Planning Association’s Planning and Community Health Research Center or check out their brochure with an overview of resources.

Photo by Fotolia/vvoe

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