Believe it or not, there was a time when food didn’t come packaged for purchase at a grocery store, when eating a meal meant going out and finding food yourself. Eager to get in touch with our foraging roots, a growing group of people are getting passionate about picking wild food from our own backyards.
Now, progressive minds at the city of Seattle are hopping on the foraging bandwagon, with plans to develop a 7-acre public plot into a food forest. The Beacon Food Forest will give citizens of Seattle’s working-class Beacon Hill neighborhood the chance scour the park to pick apples, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, raspberries and more.
The Beacon Food Forest concept originally took root in the classroom. In a course on permaculture, longtime Beacon Hill resident Glenn Herlihy pointed to the community’s abundant, unused green space, which he and his colleagues planned “to regenerate this land back into something edible and natural.”
After some community outreach, local support started building for the idea. Before long, Herlihy and the Friends of Beacon Food Forest community group had received a $22,000 grant to hire a landscape architect to execute their ideas.
The group is currently working with $100,000 in seed money to set up the first phase: a 1.75-acre test zone to be planted by the end of the year. If successful, the remaining acreage will be converted to food trees.
“It’s a food system being developed in a neighborhood that’s looking for more self-reliance,” Herlihy says. “It’s getting people together by having a common denominator: soil.”