A few weeks ago, I shared with you that Seattle had officially opened Beacon Food Forest, an edible forest project to supply the community with a beautiful green space and access to chemically-free grown fruits and vegetables.
Out of curiosity, I decided to pop by for a visit yesterday and I wanted to share what I found with you.
Now silly me, I was actually looking for a forest and found an open slope. I kind of felt like Pee Wee Herman searching for the basement of the Alamo! I mean really, what did I expect? They just installed this – so I shouldn’t have expected lush, mature trees.
If you pay a visit now, you’re going to have to put on your imagination cap. Imagine 3, 5, 10 years out from now, when these young trees and shrubs will all fill in…. can you see it? You’ll wander through the path in the shade of apple, plum, and pear trees and enjoy an under story of red and black currant, blueberry, and aronia. I had to squint there for a few minutes, but I definitely caught the vision of this place.
So this made me super excited…. check out that tag… many of these fruit trees and shrubs came from Raintree Nursery! I discovered this place awhile ago and it’s fantastic. Located in Morton, Washington, they specialize in all kinds of fruit plants suitable for growing in our maritime climate. Last year, we had the chance to visit and purchased hardy kiwi vines for our garden arbor. This week, I placed my order for gooseberry and huckleberry bushes (more on those selections in an upcoming gardening post).
So what kinds of plants did I find? You name it! I found several apple, pear, and plum trees. I also had the chance to chat with a lovely volunteer named Jackie who informed me that they are also going to install a pomegranate tree (thanks to the magic of permaculture design!).
I was very curious about the pine boughs that surrounded many of the berry bushes, so I tracked down Jackie to ask her about them. Turns out, berries love an acidic PH – something the pine provides as it breaks down into the soil! I love how they are working to replicate natural processes you’d find in a forest to create strong, healthy plants all grown without chemicals.
At the top of the forest is this beautiful gazebo with grapes growing on top. (I am pretty much begging my husband to build me something like this in the backyard now!) What a lovely space for like-minded folks to gather and learn about gardening, enjoy a beautiful view of the city, or come together for a work party. Note that the next work party is April 19, 10-2. I did ask Jackie, do they need more volunteers? And turns out they are just about at capacity! Over 100 people showed up for the last work party, which tells me the community is really behind the vision of this project.
Is it worth taking the family up for a visit now? Well, if you are in the area, it’s definitely interesting to see how they’ve laid it out and to read the various signs that dot the park. However, if you’re hoping to go and forage for food, you’re going to leave disappointed. Jackie tells me that this summer, there will likely be enough for folks to enjoy a “snack,” but don’t expect to fill up baskets of berries to can – that will be a few years off.
I am excited to see what the future holds for Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest and I hope more communities will consider turning green spaces into edible parks. For more information on this unique project, its future expansion plans, and how to get involved, visit BeaconFoodForest.org.
If you’ve been involved with this project and have more information to share, please do. I’d also love to know if you’re aware of any other free-to-the-public sources of organically grown produce.
If you liked this post, you might also be interested to read:
- Urban Weed Foraging
- Charlotte’s Blueberry Park (Tacoma)
- Federal Way Blueberry Park
- Wild Blackberry Picking & Preserving
- Beacon Food Forest (initial post)