Why make food parks in urban spaces?

Sebastian von Holstein
Monday, 13th May 2013

Nobody can deny that traditional city parks are beautiful. These are lush, open spaces with trees and ponds providing small glimpses of wildlife amongst the fast paced urban stage. However, we now see ourselves in an age of energy scarcity, where natural, healthy foods are considered a luxury. Pollution is increasing and green spaces are disappearing due to the ever increasing and expanding landscape of the metropolis.

The Food Park Project tackles this problem by insisting that we can provide healthy, nutritious food for the public, while providing education and simultaneously restoring the quality of soils and earth. Empty urban spaces are converted into food parks using permaculture methods of regeneration and bio-mimicry in order to provide self-sustaining and highly productive edible spaces for the general public to enjoy.

Shifting old patterns of thinking

Old attitudes have always interfered with such projects in the past. During a recent community orchard project in the UK which saw volunteers planting pear trees, apple trees and other various fruit bushes, the project managers were asked: "But won't people just take the fruit?" by a local council member. The answer was, "We'd love local people to come and eat the fruit!" It is not currently in our collective dreams and desires to share our bounty with others, we are generally taught to fend for ourselves, accumulating our own personal acquisitions.

The food park project, on the other hand, works to undo our societal weaves by creating the foundations for resilient communities, where food security and societal communication is key. Workshops are held on site, while any excess food can be sold off for extra helpful revenue. These styles of park retain the key features of the more traditional city park for relaxation and escapist purposes yet also prove successful in including function, purpose, education and bounty. Are food parks the future?

Sources & resources

Interested in becoming a city planning permaculturist? Have a look at our permaculture course listings to begin your journey.

Books: Permaculture in Pots (also available in e-book format)

Read: Can we make our cities sustainable with permaculture?

Discussion: What if permaculturists designed our cities?

Watch: California's urban Guerrilla Grafters in action

Read: How to make space-saving vertical raised beds for urban green spaces 

Watch: New York's rooftop farmers 

Watch: How Cuba fed its population under peak-oil circumstances

Watch: Geoff Lawton discovers a 300 year old food forest outside a busy city

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