Since February, a small group of neighborhood planners, p-patch gardeners, city officials, and landscape architects have been working with residents to turn the grassy, seven-acre southwest slope of Beacon Hill's Jefferson park into a "food forest," an edible landscape designed to be devoured from the top down—with full-sized apple and nut trees, to smaller berry bushes, herbs, and down into fungal and root layers.
Tonight, the Beacon Food Forest group will present its recommended final design to the public from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Jefferson Community Center (3801 Beacon Ave. S).
Jenny Pell, a landscape and permaculture designer for the project says that forest designers had two main goals: "We've tried to plan for edibles that residents in the area like to eat—mulberries, persimmons, chestnuts, Chinese hawthorns—which will hopefully get them excited and want to participate," she explains.
The other main goal for the forest was, according to Pell, to create an ecosystem that would "produce more and more harvest and abundance over time with less and less work."
But creating an edible forest is just one component planned for the seven-acre site.
Designers also envision building a pavilion, a large community garden for people to plant whatever they want, smaller p-patch plots, and a natural children's playground ("lots of boulders and logs, no plastic," says Pell).
The Department of Neighborhood awarded the group a grant in February to fund the design part of their project—but implementation, of course, comes down to fundraising.
"If we could raise $100,000 for phase one—which we imagine will be taking one acre and building everything we want on a small scale—that would get us far along," Pell says. "Everything after tonight hinges on this fundraising piece."
Pell adds that, "It would be exciting to break ground [on phase one] in late spring, but that’s pretty ambitious."