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Creating community gardens and food forests

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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.

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  • 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.

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