By Amanda Froelich,
The vision of the Beacon Food Forest is to change the way the public thinks and relates to its food. To curb poor nutrition, prevent food waste, enhance general education, and grow free and sustainable food for all, the food forest has finally become a reality. Thankfully, the evolvement is not alone. Several other areas are beginning to plant dedicated forests for public use.
The Beacon Food Forest will cover seven acres within city limits, offering everything from plum, apple, and walnut trees, to bushes, herbs, and vegetables. The goal is to re-create an eco-system of a real forest with food-bearing varieties at different heights.
Hardworking members of the community group have already planted about 35 trees, and also have completed a large amount of landscaping and irrigation work, according to Glen Herlihy, one of the creators. The forest is now open, with plants to start producing food next year, beginning with herbs, vegetables, and annuals.
It’s an exciting advancement which has inspired a variety of groups to take part in. Because it’s a community project, it will include community gardening plots, a teaching space, barbeque spot, and recreational areas to cater to all.
Herlihy hopes visitors will practice ‘ethical harvesting’–taking what they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling greedy, there will be a “thieves garden” containing lower-grade products. “We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff” he added.
The optimistic view from Herlihy and other group members is that the forest could eventually produce “quite a bit of food”, and he hopes it will be a place where the community can come together.
A positive development for individuals of all ages, the food forest can help people reconnect to nature, support a forest that will feed others, and enhance one’s personal well-being and nutrition by consuming fresh, botanical foods.
“People are learning where they can find food about the place,” he says, referring to foraging in general. “That’s a good thing. Better than it going to waste”.
Hopefully in the future other cities will follow suit; creating food ecosystems will support the local economy, promote preventative health, and allow an educational space for all to reconnect with nature and continue sustaining the Earth.