What is a food forest? It’s a permaculture concept explained in this fantastic video shot by cinematographer-turned-permaculturist Andrew Whittaker. He shows permaculture gardening principles can provide an abundance of food and other functions for a home or community.
I was very glad to hear that Andrew had set up shop in my home town of Framingham, MA with a landscape design company called Green Abundance by Design. Every time I visit home, I notice how much land each house has around it out there, as opposed to in Seattle. There is so much potential for low-maintenance edible gardens and truly sustainable food networks.
Food Forest Installation in Framingham
On the weekend of April 16-17, 2016, Andrew and the Framingham Food Forest Fellowship (part of Transition Framingham) will be organizing a group of volunteers to install The Open Spirit Edible Forest Garden at Edwards Church in the Saxonville neighborhood. This is quite near Stapleton Elementary School, my alma mater, and I think it’s very fitting that this be the site of the first public food forest in Framingham.
Just as rivers and falls were the site of factories during the industrial revolution, they are also good spots for sustainable gardens and forests that aim to be self-irrigating. Our pre-industrial forebears took advantage of this area. A walking tour brochure by the Friends of Saxonville explains that Native Americans of the Nipmuc tribe lived and fished in the Stone’s Neck area just a few blocks from present-day Edwards Church for centuries at the falls area where the Sudbury River surrounds the land on three sides. Framingham’s first European-American settler, John Stone, settled here in 1647. How wonderful that our post-industrial, sustainable town should also begin here.
Stapleton School: Framingham’s Environmental School
I hope the school can be involved, too. I remember walking to the cemetery of Edwards Church from Stapleton for some kind of field trip when I was a kid in the 1980s (130 years after the first school was built on that site). It is a very peaceful place, with the cool feel of an old forest. I think it’s neat that I don’t remember the point of the field trip, but I do remember the natural surroundings. It’s like in ESL, it doesn’t matter what you talk about as long as you get your students using English; in outdoor education it doesn’t matter what you teach out there as long as you get kids outside into magical places.
Stapleton became “the Environmental School” when the town differentiated schools by specialty and introduced school choice some time ago. I can’t wait to see how they use the new public food forest in their curriculum. We have the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, which I have visited and enjoyed, but I think this Saxonville one is going to be even cooler.
To join Andrew and the Fellows at the Open Spirit Edible Forest Permablitz on the 16th or 17th, sign up here!