Source: Local Futures
A community orchard is a collection of food-bearing fruit and nut trees collectively shared and managed by and for local communities, located on publicly accessible lands and managed as a commons for the public good rather than as a private enterprise. Food forests expand this concept by creating multi-layered edible landscapes with perennial vegetables integrated with and around the trees. Even small lots with existing trees can become incredibly productive garden spaces.
- Work with your local government to create a food forest with Andy Cambeis’ Manual for creating a community food forest on public land, written for New Zealand but applicable broadly. See also Catherine Bukowski and Jonathan Munsell’s book The Community Food Forest Handbook, featuring lessons from 20 projects across the US.
- Learn how to plan, design, plant, and care for community orchards with The Orchard Project’s series of Guides and Advice.
- Dive more deeply into every aspect of starting a community orchard with Sue Clifford and Angela King’s book The Community Orchards Handbook. Read an overview of top tips for getting started from the book’s authors, as profiled by Matilda Lee’s article What is a Community Orchard?
- In the US, find a food forest project with Community Food Forests’ Map.
- In the UK, get involved with an existing food forest or start your own with The Food Forest Project.
- Four friends started the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, US, by presenting to the city council their vision for transforming a plot of grass into a food resource for all. Nine years later, Seattle had a 3-acre food forest that everyone can freely harvest from.
- The staff at the Food Forest Project in the UK works with communities to rehabilitate land and create food forests, and is building a food forest demonstration site, the Education and Wellbeing Centre.
- The Belipola Arboretum in Mirahawatte, Sri Lanka, is a thriving 30-year-old “analog forest”: a food-producing landscape designed to mimic all the functions of a natural forest ecosystem.
- Lyneham Commons is a community-run public food forest in Canberra, Australia, that is working to “regenerate public land, improve food security, provide education, reduce agricultural impact and grow food for the benefit of all.”
- The Calgary Public Orchards, maintained by the government of Calgary in Canada, contain edible fruit and nut trees stewarded by community members and open to all.
- Cottingly Hall in Leeds, UK, is home to the country’s largest community orchard, and shows that even unorthodox spaces can become a great community resource: 120 fruit trees are planted along a half-mile stretch of open space along a railway.
- The story of the Rosewood Public Orchard in Columbia, South Carolina, US, shows that the community-building element of a community orchard is as important and valuable as the fruit trees.
- In Community Orchards Bear More Than Fruit, Marina Kelava shares about Croatia’s first community orchard based on permaculture principles in the town of Varaždin, which is helping to rebuild both soil and community.