This fall, the Maplewood Elementary PTA Landscaping and Grants committees worked with local nonprofit Urban Patchwork to make plans for a small demonstration food forest at the entrance to the school. Laurie Berman, PTA Grants Chair, submitted an application for a Bright Green Future School Grant from the City of Austin. We hope to receive the $3,000 grant to install the project in Spring 2017.
The proposal is for an edible food forest and rain garden near the main entrance to our school. Our partner on the project, Urban Patchwork, has lots of experience turning underutilized spaces into productive urban gardens and farms and educational spaces, and we were inspired by the Festival Beach Food Forest planned in East Austin. We hope that the Maplewood forest will feed, educate, and inspire our school community and the surrounding neighborhood.
You might be asking what is a food forest? ” A food forest is a gardening technique or land management system, which mimics a woodland ecosystem by substituting edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Fruit and nut trees make up the upper level, while berry shrubs, edible perennials and annuals make up the lower levels.” (source: Beacon Food Forest). The location we have identified is the triangle to the left of the school’s main entrance. This space is sufficient to host four small varieties of fruit trees as well as eight edible understory plants and lots of rainbed ground plants that will support the fruit trees and soil health, and add seasonal interest to brighten the entry to the school. There will be a focus on educational aspects of the garden with signage and seating. The food forest will provide an engaging outdoor learning space for educators to align math, science, arts, literacy learning objectives with outdoor experiences.
The Bright Green Futures grant is funded by the city’s Office of Sustainability, and is intended to “recognize and support innovative projects that will inspire students to become lifelong environmental stewards.” We hope that we receive the funds and are working on installation next spring!
Design by Urban Patchwork.