Seattle, WA Plans Development of Harvestable “Food Forest”

Seattle, WA, home to the Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market, is preparing to develop its largest-ever harvestable “food forest.”  The park will offer urbanites the chance to pick and consume fresh fruits and vegetables from the communal forest.

The idea to create a harvestable food forest originated from a group of environmentally-minded individuals interested in the concept of a communal garden that offered residents locally grown crops.  A proposal was made to city officials in 2010 to create the “food forest” in the neighborhood of Beacon Hill.  City officials have agreed to the idea and declared the year 2010 the “year of urban agriculture.”

This won’t be the first time the city has helped develop and maintain a community garden and nor is it the only city which has invested in the irony of urban agriculture.  Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, PA, and Syracuse, NY are three other cities with their own take on the concept of a “food forest.”  For example, in Syracuse, NY, vacant lots have been allocated for the use of vegetable gardens to be tended by teens, and Pittsburgh has its own food forest created two years ago that includes fruit-bearing berry bushes and pear trees.

The “food forest” will start out at two acres, but will expand to cover seven acres of land in the ethnically diverse Beacon Hill neighborhood.  The “food forest” will be located next to apartment complexes, a driving range, a lawn bowling club, a sports park, and a busy road.  Furthermore, the food forest will only be three miles away from Seattle’s downtown core.  The city has put aside $100,000 for the development of the first two acres.  Although the “food forest” has not been advertised by the city as becoming the largest one in the country, folks such as Greg Herlihy, who helped with the initial design of the park, believe it will be the largest in the nation.

The “food forest” will be different from an orchard in that it will consist of and rely on a variety of plants, trees, and vegetation, much like a forest eco-system.  Developers will plant fruit and nut tress on the upper level and  annuals, berry shrubs, and edible perennials on the lower levels.  Companion plants will also be added to the mix to help attract beneficial insects and manage pests.

Photo credit: m.wikitravel.org/en/USA

A Green Lifestyle in Portland

Portland-OregonThe city of Portland, Oregon is often considered to be one of the most eco friendly places to live in the United States. A pioneer of a healthy, green lifestyle, many residents of Portland take advantage of year round environmentally conscious living options, and implement them into their daily lives. Nearly two million people call Portland home, and are often exposed to a mindset of enjoying and preserving the environment. With younger generations quickly infusing the mindset environmental awareness into their daily lives, Portland continues to be a truly green city.

The citizens of Portland are continuously in the process of creating progressive green programs to make their city cleaner, fresher, and more sustainable. Through the help of Portland State University, college students use education and innovative ideas to positively influence green programs in the area. In a time where locally sourced organic food reigns high in the culinary world, students at the university have proposed ways to garden and grow organic food on their own campus. This sustainable practice highlights the eco friendly mentality of the younger generation of Portlanders.

Green transportation in Portland is key to maintaing an eco friendly urban region. With sustainable innovations and often times simple solutions, Portland has become one of the most bicycle friendly spots in the country. While much of the population of the United States depends on cars as their primary means of transportation, Portlanders tend to use alternative methods. About 5,000 people use bicycles to commute to work on a daily basis, which significantly reduces the amount of cars on the road. There are hundreds of miles of designated bike paths around the city of Portland, which encourages people to use bicycles as much as possible. 

Aside from being a bicycle friendly city, Portland has other transportation options that makes traveling around the city easy and good for the environment. Local government has implemented The Light Rail, a public transportation system that connects Portland to outlying suburbs and the Portland International Airport. The Portland Streetcar runs specifically around the city. Both the Light Rail and Streetcar system are free anywhere in downtown Portland. The combination of trains and bicycles clears up traffic on the streets and pollution in the air. For those who drive, Portland happens to be the original city with the car-sharing program. Flexcar is a system where designated cars are stationed around the city. Members are able to access these cars for a certain amount of time. Each Flexcar takes off six other cars on the road. 

Portland ranks in the top ten walkable cities in the country. Popular walkable neighborhoods in Portland are Old Town-Chinatown, the Pearl District, and Downtown. Any visitor or resident can easily maneuver around the distinct neighborhoods of the city. Walkscore.com, a website that analyzes the walkability of cities and neighborhoods, gives highly positive scores to areas within Portland. With a highest possible walk score of 100, seven Portland neighborhoods received walk scores between 90 and 100. This large amount of walkable areas positively impacts how Portland maintains a green lifestyle. 

Portland has several city parks, totaling 37,000 acres of green space. There are 288 parks around the city. One famous park which brings nature straight to an urban environment is Forest Park. It is 5,156 acres of wilderness, which gives Portlanders and tourists an easy way to enjoy the green environment without leaving the city. In parks throughout the city, there are 166 miles of trails for walkers and hikers to explore. Aside from large parks and wide spaces of wilderness, Portland also has Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park measuring only 24” across. Portland has had extensive environmental development and planning which has created parks for anyone to enjoy. 

Unspoiled components of the environment of the Pacific Northwest has given Portland direct contact to nature. For hiking enthusiasts, nearby Mount Hood is a perfect spot to take in the mountainous scenery and trek through the wooded landscape. It is located about 60 miles east of downtown Portland, which gives residents an easily accessible destination for a day trip to the mountains. Mount Hood is currently considered to be an active volcano, although it last erupted more than 15,000 years ago. Mount Hood is well liked by many Portlanders who savor outdoor experiences.

A combination of progressive ideas and nature at their fingertips, Portlanders have come to appreciate their environment while respecting it as much as possible. Portland continues to maintain its positive reputation as a green city, and its residents are considered to be some of the most eco friendly individuals in the country. For locals and visitors alike, experiencing Portland’s charming attractions and neighboring natural beauty highlights how the green lifestyle can become a positive city wide craze.

Photo credit: mypage.iu.edu/~rmarriv/portland-oregon-skyline1.jpg