Producing Edible Landscapes in Seattle’s Urban Forest

By: Rebecca McLain, Melissa Poe, Patrick T. Hurley, Joyce Lecompte-Mastenbrook, and Marla R. Emery

Seattle, WA (Fall 2012) – Over the next decades, green infrastructure initiatives such as tree planting campaigns, and ecological restoration will dramatically change the species composition, species distribution and structure of urban forests across the United States. These impending changes are accompanied by a demand for urban public spaces where people can engage in practices such as gleaning, gardening, and livestock production.

This article analyzes the institutional framework that undergirds efforts in Seattle, Washington to normalize the production and use of edible landscapes. We focus attention on the role of grassroots fruit gleaning groups and highlight their bridging function between Seattle’s agriculture and forestry policy arenas, creating an entry point for reconceptualizing urban forests as sites of production.

We conclude that a vision of urban forests as providers of goods as well as services may provide a more solid foundation for achieving urban sustainability than the current “hands off” approach to urban forest management. Gleaning and gathering in urban wild and cultivated landscapes provides opportunities for inhabitants to steward public natural resources and interact deeply with nature.

Related Resources
Producing Edible Landscapes in Seattle’s Urban Forest