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Seattle's 'Beacon Food Forest' Opens This Summer

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    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2013
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      By Ben Schiller
      June 11, 2013



      If you’re in Seattle, you can soon skip the farmer’s market. The Beacon
      Food Forest will grow plums, apples, walnuts, berries, vegetables, and
      herbs -- all free for the taking.

      There’s free food everywhere, if you know where to look. Falling Fruit,
      which maps publicly available produce in several countries, lists 554
      edible varieties (mostly plants) in 570,000 locations. It’s mostly stuff
      that currently goes to waste, like fruit that drops into streets, only
      to get mashed into concrete.

      Most of the locations on Falling Fruit’s map are single trees (including
      some on private property, where asking the owner is advised) or small
      community spaces. But foraging is gaining scale all the time. Several
      places are planting dedicated forests for public use.

      Look at Seattle’s embryonic Beacon Food Forest. Set to become the
      nation’s largest forageable space, it will cover seven acres within city
      limits, offering everything from plum, apple, and walnut trees, to berry
      bushes, herbs and vegetables. The goal is to recreate the ecosystem of a
      real forest with food-bearing varieties at different heights.

      The community group behind the project has planted about 35 trees so
      far, and also completed a lot of landscaping and irrigation work,
      according to Glenn Herlihy, one of the creators. He expects the space to
      open later this summer, and to start producing food next year, beginning
      with herbs, vegetables, and annuals.

      The forest will include a teaching space, conventional community
      gardening plots, a barbecue spot, and recreational areas. Since it’s a
      community project, it has to cater to many groups.

      Herlihy hopes visitors will practice "ethical harvesting"--taking what
      they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling
      greedy, there will be a "thieves garden" containing lower-grade stuff.
      "We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to
      feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff," he adds.

      Beacon is using land donated by Seattle Public Utilities, and has a
      $100,000 grant from the city. Herlihy says the forest could eventually
      produce "quite a bit of food," and he hopes it will be a place where the
      community can come together.

      "People are learning where they can find food about the place," he says,
      referring to foraging in general. "That’s a good thing. Better that than
      it going to waste."

      Falling Fruit’s founders, Caleb Phillips and Ethan Welty, see foraging
      as more than just another source of food. "Foraging in the 21st century
      is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained
      sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food," they
      say, at their website.


      David Sunfellow
      Founder & President
      NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
      Phone: (928) 239-4133
      Fax: (815) 642-0117

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