Community Groves℠ – City Fruit Beacon Food Forest

(Seattle, WA)- The local non-profit City Fruit received funding from ACTrees to develop a Community Groves℠ project planting fruit trees in an “edible arboretum” at the Beacon Food Forest.


Lesson: New and Enhanced Partnerships

CITY.FRUIT.1The Beacon Food Forest is a large, innovative community effort involving many ongoing partnerships including: City of Seattle Departments of Neighborhoods and of Parks and Recreation; Beacon Bikes; Cedar Grove Compost; Waste Management Inc.; Sustainable Path Foundation; and numerous local restaurants.


Lesson: Innovative Next Steps

The Beacon Food Forest was created as a vision of a true food ‘forest,’ that is, a succession of edible plants that mature over time and create the layers found in nature, from low growing berries and bushes to a mature fruit and nut tree canopy. This vision of an integrated, nature-mimicking orchard is serving as an example to many in the community.

CITY.FRUIT.9Edible trees and bushes were selected using permaculture principles to create a food forest. Large nut trees will eventually form a canopy over an under story of mid-size fruit trees, berry bushes and other food-bearing groundcovers.
The Beacon Food Forest is located on the west edge of the property adjacent to a new park developed by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. The edible arboretum is the initial planting within the Food Forest and encompasses 1.75 acres of the total site. Additional orchards and gardens will be developed over several years. The project site is on a clear, west-facing slope and is in Hardiness Zone 8b in the USDA map.


Lesson: Education and Community Engagement

Workshops were and will be held to train Beacon Hill residents on a permaculture approach to creating an orchard, or food forest. They trained stewards on basic permaculture principles and on the basics of planting and caring for fruit and nut trees. The following workshops were offered free of charge to community residents:
• Renovating old fruit trees and pruning plum trees: Rita Smith, a City Fruit tree expert, provided a lecture and hands on demonstration of how to renovate mature plum trees. Eleven people attended the workshop.
• Permaculture principles and orchards: This lecture and slide show described and illustrated basic permaculture principles and explained how these applied to the food forest. Eighteen people, including Parks Department staff, attended the workshop.
• Soils, sheet mulching and plant guilds: This lecture and slide show dealt with the importance of soils and how to build soil health naturally and over time. The hands on portion of the workshop showed participants how to sheet mulch. Forty-nine Beacon Hill residents attended the workshop.
• Planting fruit trees: Jana Dilley, arborist and manager of Seattle reLeaf Program, taught participants how to plant fruit and nut trees to maximize health and growth potential.
• Site irrigation: Rick Valley, a permaculture designer, lead a ‘trenching’ work party and hands-on class to demonstrate the best options for moving water naturally over the site.
• Sheet mulching basics and soil preparation: Permaculture experts Glenn Herlihy and Peter Lang taught a hands-on course on soil health, spore inoculation, and the importance of mycorrizhae and other soil organisms. 35 people attended.

Learn more about Community Groves℠.