The Promise of Urban Food Forests

Planting food-producing trees can offer both shade and a source of healthy foods in concrete-dominated neighborhoods.

1 minute read

February 9, 2024, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of yellow lemon growing on tree poking through chain link fence.

Gabe / Adobe Stock

It’s a well-known fact that trees can help reduce the urban heat island effect and lower temperatures in cities. Now, urban forestry advocates are touting another potential benefit of trees: food. As Max Graham explains in Grist, “Volunteers, school teachers, and urban farmers in cities across the country are planting fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and other edible plants in public spaces to create shade, provide access to green space, and supply neighbors with free and healthy food.” In Tucson, an effort to plant mesquite trees combines the need for shade in the sun-drenched Arizona city with the mesquite’s traditional role as a food plant.

While urban forests are unlikely to provide a steady food supply for everyone who needs it, they can help supplement diets and provide access to fresh fruits. In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchard Project produced over 11,000 pounds of fresh produce last year. “Another well-established food forest skirts the Old West Church in Boston, where volunteers have spent a decade transforming a city lawn into a grove of apple, pear, and cherry trees hovering over vegetable, pollinator, and herb gardens.”

Monday, January 29, 2024 in Grist

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