Building Permaculture in Seattle

Robert Mellinger reports on efforts to build the nation's largest public food forest in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle.

Scheduled to break ground this Spring, the Beacon Food Forest will occupy seven acres currently owned by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), transforming the sloping lawn into community park space and edible landscape.

According to Mellinger, "The end goal is an urban oasis of public food: Visitors to the corner of 15th Ave S. and S. Dakota Street will be greeted by a literal forest - an entire acre will feature large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory, full-sized fruit trees like big apples and mulberries in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground.

Further down the path an edible arboretum full of exotic looking persimmons, mulberries, Asian pears, and Chinese haws will surround a sheltered classroom for community workshops. Looking over the whole seven acres, you'll see playgrounds and kid space full of thornless mini edibles adjacent to community gardening plots, native plant areas, a big timber-frame gazebo and gathering space with people barbecuing, a recreational field, and food as far as you can see."

Built around the concept of permaculture, "an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor," Beacon Food Forest has blazed a path through the bureaucratic thickets of Seattle, in a process that could have far reaching effects on efforts to procure and produce more food locally in cities across the country.

Full Story: Nation's largest public Food Forest takes root on Beacon Hill

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