In times of plenty, Americans graciously set up parkland all over this nation. Not only massive federal parks but endless small local parks. These are a vast resource for the people in our country, and there is huge pressure to sell this land to corporations. Much of our federal parkland is already leased to corporations. Use it or lose it is coming in to play in regard to our public lands, or “Commons. ”
Although this seems a radical suggestion in the United States, we could increase the community value of our parkland by using them more like an English Commons. Adding Food Forests to parks in town’s and cities could nicely supplement their current use for throwing frisbees, jogging, and picnicking. Surely, anyone can rest in the shade of a producing chestnut or pecan tree. Try a glorious walnut tree over your picnic table. When the bear nuts, anyone can pick them up.
England had land in most communities that was held in common (parkland) and used by all. People had their own plots, most 1/4 acre and called smallholdings, which were intensively gardened and fed their families. They cut wood, grazed livestock, collected nuts and berries, gathered plants, etc. on the Commons. Our Commons are used for playing frisbee, jogging, and picnics. A Food Forest couldn’t hurt. Anything not picked by locals could be picked for food banks.
Before I left Dallas, I talked to the Parks Department about turning a small park into a Food Forest. I was contemplating buying acreage at the time, but lived in an area with many parks and wondered if that might be an acceptable alternative to moving to the country. I lived near my downtown job in the market economy.
Due to budget constraints, they were having a hard time maintaining the parks and came up with a short list of parks near me that I could work in. They also had a list of plants they could provide free.
They also encouraged civic groups to adopt parks or any portion thereof. In fact, at least one civic group worked a portion of our largest park in my neighborhood.
In addition, they listed a large median in my subdivision that was open for adoption and planting. I passed that on to a pair of avid gardeners who lived across from that median. They jumped on it, got free materials and a periodic water truck, and turned it into a thing of beauty that was right in front of their home.
In the end, I purchased 14 acres east of Dallas.
I don’t know what Albuquerques’ guidelines are, I live on my own Food Forest in the East Mountains. I see native Elderberry bushes loaded with fruits along I-40 and imagine the birds love them… although increased bird deaths are also associated with freeway plantings. Still, it indicates that Food Forest requests would be received well here.
Seattle has a 7 acre Food Forest going into a park adjacent to a working class neighborhood. I lived in Maple Valley Washington and planted fruiting trees around the edges of one of the big storm water ponds that take overflow in heavy rains, but are generally empty. It was public land and anyone could pick fruit there like anyone can pick blackberries along the jogging paths.
If you cannot afford land and want to try your hand at a Food Forest, try working with your local Parks Department. Budget cuts are stressing them all and they might be delighted to hear from you.