Public Food Forest – Seattle Inspiration

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A seven acre public land plot in Seattle is an awesome example of how a city can help in providing wholesome food for it’s occupants. They have given their population a Food Forest!

Public Food Forest Seattle

Come to Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood and you’ll see not only what has been called the nation’s largest food forest, but also on a busy adjacent thoroughfare, Beacon Avenue, beans of all varieties — snap beans and those with fancy names like Calypso and YinYang— climbing fences and trellises at coffee and auto repair shops. Renamed for the harvest, the avenue is a “Boulevard of Beans.”.

While the beans grab for attention, the food forest in Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park, is taking root. After years of meetings between the city and those committed to expand the locally grown urban food supply; groundwork is in high gear.

Volunteers Eager To Work!

Public Food Forest Seattle - Beacon Hill

At a Saturday work party, some 100 volunteers show up, eager to turn dry grassland into something it probably never was: a living ecosystem of food and trees. A cluster of young plum and walnut trees shows what’s in store for seven acres of park land. Red clover, planted at the trees base, will fix nitrogen in the soil.

Beacon Food Forest Volunteers 3

Nearby, a patch of strawberries ripens in the sun. Pumpkins transition from green to mottled orange. And on a terraced bed uphill, lavender and sunflowers beckon pollinators. via

The Food Forest Design

According to the Friends of Beacon Food Forest website: “The design of this seven-acre site provides opportunities for cultural exchange and understanding, for education and recreation.” The design includes:

  • An edible arboretum with fruits gathered from regions Around the world,
  • A berry patch for canning, gleaning and the joy of eating right off the bush
  • Orchards,
  • A nut grove with trees that provide both shade and sustenance
  • A children’s area
  • Living gateways, which will connect and serve as portals between areas.”

Allotments Including:

  • A community garden using the p-patch model where families can grow their own food
  • Collectively managed plots
  • Tree-patches, a new term coined by the team, much like a standard garden plot, but with a tree. wikipedia

The Food Forest Vision

Beacon Food Forest Volunteers 2… seven acres of lonely, sloping lawn that have sat idly in the hands of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) for the better part of a century …

… the land that has only ever known the whirring steel of city mowers will begin a complete transformation into seven acres of edible landscape and community park space known as the Beacon Food Forest.

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. via


Goals of The Food Forest

The Beacon Hill Community Food Forest has several goals. One goal is to bring the Beacon Hill neighborhood, which is a richly diverse community, together in fostering a permaculture tree guild approach to urban farming and land stewardship. And to provide healthy affordable food to the surrounding community.

The Food Forest received a Small and Simple Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) award from the Department of Neighborhoods to hire a design professional to engage the community in a design process, to create a community maintenance to create a “Food Forest” adjacent to the west side of Jefferson Park along 15th Avenue.

The Food Forest steering committee hired Margarett Harrison (Harrison Design) along with permaculture specialists Jenny Pell (Permaculture Now! ) and David Boehnlein (Terra Phoenix Design).

All of Jefferson Park belongs to Seattle Public Utilities. There is a Memorandum of Agreement with Seattle Parks for management of the newly developed Jefferson Park Expansion project. However, the Food Forest site is not part of the land that is managed and maintained by Parks. The Friends of the Food Forest work directly with the Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Public Utilities. via

What Do You Think?

Is this not an fantastic move by a visionary group of people? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see cities and towns all over the world, making this type of area available to their people. What do you think, please feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments …


One Response

  1. Gwendolyn August 6, 2014

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