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Calling All Foragers: Seattle to Plant Downtown Public Garden

By MIchael Engle | March 15, 2012

Photo: RDPixelShop

For many urban dwellers, green space is a luxury that sometimes merits special weekend plans.  Seattle, WA, on the other hand, is about to plant the necessary seeds for agricultural expansion…into the downtown core!  As Kristofor Husted reported for NPR, a taste of the rural lifestyle, or even just a memory of a childhood suburban backyard, will be made available for those in need of a break from the concrete jungle.

Pending the success of a two-acre trial, the Washington state government has recently approved a plan to develop a seven-acre plot, located in the working-class Beacon Hill neighborhood, into a public garden.  The field, which will be named the Beacon Food Forest, will be stocked with perennially-growing fruit, such as apples, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries. This output will, at first, be free for community picking, in order to promote the benefits of permaculture.

To address the potential consequences of zealous and freeloading over-pickers, garden planners hope to have enough yield to mitigate this problem. After all, any education about permaculture should trumpet “take what you need,” and not hoarding, as an objective. Eventually, small plots from the public garden will be leased to individuals, for a $10 annual fee.

In today’s society, as food activists seek to prevent the proliferation of “food deserts” that have no neighborhood access to fresh and nutritious food, Seattle’s figurative oasis is a positive development.  Community gardens will not only demonstrate seasonal crops, but also contribute to healthier lifestyles, while countering this particular example of economic inequity that arises in some cities. If nothing else, this is a way to ensure that Seattle produce may be as local as possible, while allowing for a common denominator–the soil itself–to unite the city.

Photo: RDPixelShop

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