Jefferson Park Food Forest planning meeting Thursday

The Jefferson Park Food Forest project group is having a planning meeting this Thursday, October 14, at 6:00 pm at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South. Everyone is welcome.

Here is an announcement and status report sent to us by project organizer Glenn Herlihy:

The good news:

Recently we were awarded a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to hire a designer and begin the design process. In the near future everyone will be invited to participate in several design workshops. These will offer great opportunity for community members to learn about urban agriculture and permaculture methods in particular. We plan on designing a garden lush with fruit and nut trees, abundant with native edible perennials and patches of vegetables, gathering places and play areas all intertwined with walking and biking paths. A garden that will add to the beauty of Jefferson Park and honor the intelligence of our community.

We believe community gardening provides not only an inexpensive access to organic produce but great exercise for the whole family. Its a full mind and body workout with fruits to eat in the end. Not only that it builds community and creates a foundation for food security among all living things. We are working very hard to see that our neighbors and others have access to healthy nutritious food. This is not easy but our elected officials are catching on and have made great efforts to support projects like The Jefferson Park Food Forest. We thank and congratulate them, and will work to encourage their continued support of urban agriculture.

I borrowed this description of a Food Forest from Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeir’s web page, It describes what we would like to design very well.

“Picture yourself in a forest where almost everything around you is food. Mature and maturing fruit and nut trees form an open canopy. If you look carefully, you can see fruits swelling on many branches—pears, apples, persimmons, pecans, and chestnuts. Shrubs fill the gaps in the canopy. They bear raspberries, blueberries, currants, hazelnuts, and other lesser-known fruits, flowers, and nuts at different times of the year. Assorted native wildflowers, wild edibles, herbs, and perennial vegetables thickly cover the ground. You use many of these plants for food or medicine. Some attract beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies. Others act as soil builders, or simply help keep out weeds. Here and there vines climb on trees, shrubs, or arbors with fruit hanging through the foliage—hardy kiwis, grapes, and passionflower fruits. In sunnier glades large stands of Jerusalem artichokes grow together with groundnut vines. These plants support one another as they store energy in their roots for later harvest and winter storage. Their bright yellow and deep violet flowers enjoy the radiant warmth from the sky. This is an edible forest garden.”

What is Edible Forest Gardening?

“Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodlandlike patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts. You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems. You can create a beautiful, diverse, high-yield garden. If designed with care and deep understanding of ecosystem function, you can also design a garden that is largely self-maintaining. In many of the world’s temperate-climate regions, your garden would soon start reverting to forest if you were to stop managing it. We humans work hard to hold back succession—mowing, weeding, plowing, and spraying. If the successional process were the wind, we would be constantly motoring against it. Why not put up a sail and glide along with the land’s natural tendency to grow trees? By mimicking the structure and function of forest ecosystems we can gain a number of benefits.”

If you made it through all that information you are on your way to becoming an Urban Food Forester and you should definitely join us on Thursday October 14th and further your education in edible forest gardening.