Last spring East Bayside started the first meeting of an Edible Food Forest. That is probably no different from how most people started, did we know how much we could achieve in a years work. Since our last posting edible East Bayside we have has achieved full funding to design, plan, and grow the first food forest on the Portland peninsula. One of the greatest joys of the food forest project has been seeing the way it inspires such a diverse range of people, from neighborhood seniors to environmental justice advocates looking for ways to expand food access. In preparation for the food forest, EBNO and the Resilient Hub supported a series of public outreach and engagement sessions last summer.
Though often perceived as a more feral form of a community garden, a food forest is actually highly organized, made up of tiers or families of plants with a symbiotic relationship, naturally contributing to a healthier, more productive ecosystem. These tiers, referred to as guilds, are integral to the overall health of the food forest as each component (soil, microbes, insects, birds, etc.) is essential. If done correctly, a food forest should be self-sustaining without the use of fungicides, pesticides, or herbicides.
Though the specifics are not finalized, the idea is that people will have open access to what is grown on the site. Aided by educational signage to help people know what is available to eat and when, the concept is, more or less, "take what you will eat today." The community-supported forest is expected to be dense enough and to flourish sufficiently to provide food products on a regular basis.
If all goes well, the pilot garden will eventually expand, using underutilized spaces for edible landscaping and other beautification projects.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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Kitchen Gardeners International
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Scarborough, ME, 04074, USA