Urban Forest Gardens

April 10, 2014

 

64163_10150736902815953_259444575952_11601273_175204558_n3

(Photo: Vancouver Community Food Forest, Purple Thistle Collective)

Forest gardens generate edible habitats within a specific design,  that combines fruit trees, soft fruits, perennial vegetables and herbs together as a dense collection of intertwining foods. A forest garden is planted and then grows together, unlike a vegetable garden which needs to be cultivated and maintained on an ongoing basis. There are no rows in forest gardens, no labels, and no even spacing. The foods that are grown are to be discovered through searching.

fargo-forest-garden-009-1

(Photo: Fargo Forest Garden, Oregon Food in the City)

Forest gardens are a composition that encourages nature to happen in its own way, as an alive space growing to its full potential. Neat and orderly are not words used to describe a forest garden; it is an ever changing dynamic ecology, that offers a sanctuary to those who discover its virtues. The height, shade, biodiversity, and culinary possibilities of a forest garden is a resource and habitat for all life forms.

A forest garden can often relate to a rural setting, however grown within an urban space it offers a positive remedy for neglected and abandoned areas. A forest garden underscores the significance of companion planting, which most often refers to the way that particular plants grow well together. Yet companionship is also forging a relationship with people, a garden being always there when you need it.

pear guild 8-2010-1

(Photo: Beyond Companion Planting, Gaia Creations, Ecological Landscaping and Permaculture Solutions)

Within urban environments the randomness, complexity, and spirit of untamed nature, offers a metaphor for daily living. Stepping off the pavement into nearby nature restores good humor and energy levels. Forest gardens soften the hard edges of buildings and invigorate the geometric order of city streets as a resistance against predictable urban designs. These gardens are unpredictable, and encourage this trait in those willing to share in the anarchic nature of food forests.