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#1 Mar 02 2012 at 8:49 AM Rating: Good
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Seattle is developing a 7 acre 'Free to Forage Food Forest' in an urban area.

I've often wondered about these types of things and how they're regulated. Apparently, this one is not going to be regulated. Anyone will be able to forage as much as they like under the idea that each will only take what they need and/or can use. I just don't see that working. I consider myself a relatively honest and equitable person, but I'd be out there foraging not only fruit/berries/nuts to eat fresh but to preserve - and if you're going to can, you're going to make extra.

I do that now. I forage a lot of the stuff from our local arboreturm. Even in this rural nature park, that is not really open to foraging (I got permission - sort of) I have to forage the blackberries daily for a week or so, to get them after they're ripe but before anyone else gets them. I race against the farmer to collect quinces before they become horse fodder. I've given up on the chokecheery tree in a public right-away just a few hundred feet down on my road. Someone else always gets there before me and cleans the tree completely.

Do you think people's greed will allow this sort of concept to work - as intended?

Secondly, it appears that the state is providing this food forest, and I'm assuming will be maintaining it. So basically the state is giving away free food - randomly. It's not necessarily going to those most needy or most deserving, but most likely, disproportionately to those that live closest, or have the opportunity to spend a couple hours each day to forage. Is this equitable?

Here's the story.

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#2 Mar 02 2012 at 8:53 AM Rating: Excellent
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I foresee dead bushes and trees very quickly.
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#3 Mar 02 2012 at 9:00 AM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
Do you think people's greed will allow this sort of concept to work - as intended?
Probably not.
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#4 Mar 02 2012 at 9:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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I'm skeptical of it working but why not give it a go. Worst case scenario, you have a park without berries to eat.

I think they should release wild pigs and deer and make it a hunter/forager food forest. I wonder how long it takes for someone to eat some free-growing toxic mushrooms and sue the city.
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#5 Mar 02 2012 at 11:34 AM Rating: Good
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I adore the idea, but expect it to crash and burn quickly.
#6 Mar 02 2012 at 12:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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My money is on crash and burn. Nothing against using money to improve a local park, but there's not a lot of stuff that really grows well up there. If they're really hinging on this:

Quote:

The area southwest of the Park as it stands now is sloped and covered in grass but offers exceptional sun exposure. The suns exposure and angle of the slope allows us to grow a large variety of plants and stretch our ability to grow foods from other climate zones.


I'm afraid they're going to be sorely disappointed. Cheaper to just let the blackberries take over and cut a couple of paths through them. Smiley: rolleyes
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#7 Mar 02 2012 at 1:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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Seattle is a USDA Climate zone 8b. That's the same zone as you find in central Texas, southern Georgia, north Florida, etc. That's not to say the climate itself is exactly the same (obviously its not) but you should find relatively the same plant hardiness and be able to grow all manners of stuff.

Chicago is a 6a/5b and there's all sorts of edible native stuff that grows in this zone. Seattle should have no trouble finding suitable plants.
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#8 Mar 02 2012 at 1:33 PM Rating: Good
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someproteinguy wrote:
My money is on crash and burn. Nothing against using money to improve a local park, but there's not a lot of stuff that really grows well up there. If they're really hinging on this:

Quote:

The area southwest of the Park as it stands now is sloped and covered in grass but offers exceptional sun exposure. The suns exposure and angle of the slope allows us to grow a large variety of plants and stretch our ability to grow foods from other climate zones.


I'm afraid they're going to be sorely disappointed. Cheaper to just let the blackberries take over and cut a couple of paths through them. Smiley: rolleyes
Sounds like good conditions for growing saffron crocuses.

I think stuff will grow fine. It's just hard to see how the harvest can be dispersed fairly at all - unless of course people are just too lazy to pick their own fruit. It's a good experiment though. I mean it's gotta be better to have an exploited urban food forest than to have no urban food forest at all, right?

See how it goes and modify things as needed.
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#9 Mar 02 2012 at 1:51 PM Rating: Good
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It's a novel idea. As a kid several large fields of wild plants and some trees would be about the same thing. I remember finding and eating, strawberry's, blueberry's, blackberry's, raspberry's, currants, cherries, peaches, apples, pears, grapes. Not to mention wild onions and other plants.
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#10 Mar 02 2012 at 1:55 PM Rating: Good
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Uglysasquatch wrote:
I foresee dead bushes and trees very quickly.


We have a VERY small commons in Victoria (Spring Ridge Commons) and it actually works really well. Nothing has died off from overharvesting and people just take a bit here and there.

So it can work, yeah. I'm pretty sure it has been around for years without significant problems. Whenever I go there there are things to harvest.

Quote:
In 1999, local Permaculturalist Geoff Johnson with a group of volunteers began laying sheet mulch over the hard-packed gravel on this unused former school bus lot, and proceeded to start planting fruit trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants according to a design they developed. Over time, some of these plantings have been more successful than others, with figs, goumi, medlars and the large damson plum near the centre doing especially well, while some other species have struggled due to the original poor soil conditions and warm, dry conditions on the site. In the recent past LifeCycles held the lease for Spring Ridge Commons. During this time, a Steering Committee was formed to steward the site and guide the Commons forward. Bi-weekly work parties were led by Commitee members- these work parties attracted many new and diverse volunteers and began to tackle the grasses and other invasives (like Morning Glory) which we growing rampantly on site. Weeding and sheet mulching were regular activities! We also built trellises for the loganberries, a composter, and extended and repaired the irrigation. In 2007, LifeCycles initiated a mapping and signage project to provide visitors to the commons with a map and information about the plants found there: when to harvest them, properties of the plants and how to enjoy them.


The lease has transferred now to Fernwood NRG with Transition Victoria Food Group taking the leadership in supporting the Commons. Monthly Sunday afternoon work parties are being organized with the possiblity of week day work parties being added over the summer if there's demand/energy for it. Fundraising + grant opportunities will be explored to revitalize the Commons plus a comprehensive long-term plan will also be developed for the space. For additional information, please visit: http://springridgecommons.ca




We actually have two commons. This is the other one. Both have been very successful. Maybe we're all just a bit hippy dippy here.



Edited, Mar 2nd 2012 12:00pm by Olorinus
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#11 Mar 02 2012 at 2:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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Olorinus wrote:
Uglysasquatch wrote:
I foresee dead bushes and trees very quickly.


We have a VERY small commons in Victoria (Spring Ridge Commons) and it actually works really well.
Yea, but that place isn't swarming with Americans. Important distinction.
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#12 Mar 02 2012 at 4:49 PM Rating: Decent
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Sounds like a great place for the homeless to set up camp and live off the land.
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#13 Mar 02 2012 at 6:37 PM Rating: Excellent
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I agree with letting blackberries flourish there. Blackberries are like the kudzu of Seattle.

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#14 Mar 02 2012 at 8:47 PM Rating: Good
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Blackberries grow as big as bamboo forests here in Michigan outside my house. When I was young we'd get plants with 1 inch stalks and easily 6-7 feet tall.

We removed them from our back yard, and planted a garden. And there used to be equally large growths outside lining the utility trail outside the house. Unfortunately the electric company tore them all up. Now they don't grow as large. But when they were torn down, they made room for raspberry plants to sprout up, so there is a mix of blackberry, raspberry, and a few strawberry and dewberry plants along the ground. And the random wintergreen berries.
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#15 Mar 02 2012 at 10:37 PM Rating: Good
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Debalic wrote:
Sounds like a great place for the homeless to set up camp and live off the land.


Or someone plants some pot seeds and it promptly takes over the whole area.
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#16 Mar 02 2012 at 10:47 PM Rating: Excellent
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I love the idea, kinda wish there was one around here . . .
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#17 Mar 03 2012 at 7:08 AM Rating: Good
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The main thing I can see that will help it is I think the idea will attract a different type of person.

I think the majority of the greedy folk who would strip the area bare would be too lazy to bother. It may get a bunch of publicity from the start and attract a few of those types, but in the end I think the people who would stay would be ones who would help it thrive, planting their own things to share, etc.

I'm sure some of the more 'rare' items will still be hard to come by, but you'd think that in the end people would groom it like a community garden of sorts. The ones that care would be the majority of the users after the initial "wow" factor wears off.
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#18 Mar 03 2012 at 8:17 AM Rating: Excellent
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TirithRR wrote:
I'm sure some of the more 'rare' items will still be hard to come by, but you'd think that in the end people would groom it like a community garden of sorts. The ones that care would be the majority of the users after the initial "wow" factor wears off.

What, are we foraging for crafting ingredients on Thundering Steppes or something?
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#19 Mar 03 2012 at 3:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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What you have to remember about blackberries in the pacific northwest, is that our blackberries are actually a different species than anything you encounter in the rest of the country. While they do posess berries larger and arguably sweeter than those found everywhere else, the plants themselves are literally a nightmare. Strong sharp thorns everywhere, on the leaves, on the stalks, pretty much everything but the berries. New plants can generate from the smallest fragment of one you try to remove. The thorns will easily penitrate all forms of standard work gloves, and removeal is often performed by people wearing anti shark fine chainmail mesh gloves and ceramic body armor panels. The grow insanely fast. In one season they can overwhelm a house. If you kill them before they drop berries, you have a chance. If they drop berries, next year you have a plant mass a thousand times more dense, that will keep regenerating until the end of time. Burning them just ****** them off. Chemicals act as fertalizer. Ice makes them grow faster. 8 or 9 removal specialists go missing in blackberry patches every year, never to be seen again. Sometimes, in the dead of winter nights, you can hear them screaming. We tried nuking them once. After that, the military largely abandoned the multi billion dollar nuclear facility hanford...

Someone really should figure out a way to turn them into biofuel, they would have an unlimited supply of raw material. Lucky for the rest of you they need a particularily cold, wet climate to thrive. Otherwise I'm sure they would have covered the earth by now. The theory is that our blackberries are actually a hybrid cross with Salmonberries, which are also found throughout the area.

If Blackberry plants ever become sentient, we're all *******
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#20 Mar 03 2012 at 4:00 PM Rating: Excellent
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Think I pretty much covered it with the kudzu remark, frankly.
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#21 Mar 03 2012 at 4:30 PM Rating: Good
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There used to be a rather large community garden not too far from my house. It's now a baseball field.
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#22 Mar 03 2012 at 4:39 PM Rating: Good
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I had to look up what Kudzu is.
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#23 Mar 03 2012 at 5:25 PM Rating: Good
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
What you have to remember about blackberries in the pacific northwest, is that our blackberries are actually a different species than anything you encounter in the rest of the country. While they do posess berries larger and arguably sweeter than those found everywhere else, the plants themselves are literally a nightmare. Strong sharp thorns everywhere, on the leaves, on the stalks, pretty much everything but the berries. New plants can generate from the smallest fragment of one you try to remove. The thorns will easily penitrate all forms of standard work gloves, and removeal is often performed by people wearing anti shark fine chainmail mesh gloves and ceramic body armor panels. The grow insanely fast. In one season they can overwhelm a house. If you kill them before they drop berries, you have a chance. If they drop berries, next year you have a plant mass a thousand times more dense, that will keep regenerating until the end of time. Burning them just ****** them off. Chemicals act as fertalizer. Ice makes them grow faster. 8 or 9 removal specialists go missing in blackberry patches every year, never to be seen again. Sometimes, in the dead of winter nights, you can hear them screaming. We tried nuking them once. After that, the military largely abandoned the multi billion dollar nuclear facility hanford...

Someone really should figure out a way to turn them into biofuel, they would have an unlimited supply of raw material. Lucky for the rest of you they need a particularily cold, wet climate to thrive. Otherwise I'm sure they would have covered the earth by now. The theory is that our blackberries are actually a hybrid cross with Salmonberries, which are also found throughout the area.

If Blackberry plants ever become sentient, we're all @#%^ed.


I don't know if you are describing blackberry plants from the Northwest or not, but that description describes pretty well the blackberry plants here in Michigan. If left to their own they will spread like wildfire.
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#24 Mar 03 2012 at 5:30 PM Rating: Excellent
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Our blackberry vines eat kudzu for breakfast...
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#25 Mar 03 2012 at 5:47 PM Rating: Excellent
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...And STILL can't wipe it out.

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#26 Mar 03 2012 at 6:04 PM Rating: Good
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It's an interesting social experiment. I think it could work. I mean, how many berries can one person really collect, horde, and use before they just get bored? Also, foraging is a pretty foreign concept to most of us today. It might go underutilized at first, even, and as it eventually catches on people might respect it. It really could go either way.
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