Self-Care Challenge (Day 263): Touring a Food Forest

trail within the Beacon Food Forest

On day 263 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I toured a food forest.

Yesterday, my self-care activity for the day was touring the Beacon Hill Food Forest with a friend. Located just 2 miles south of Seattle, the edible forest ecosystem is quite the anomaly.

While it might not look like much from a distance, as you move closer you can’t help but get drawn in. In the couple of minutes that I waited for my friend, I couldn’t help myself and soon ventured into the center before I even realized I was there. There was so much to explore, and every turn greeted me with something new and interesting.

I guess it’s not all that surprising since the design is deeply rooted in permaculture principles. What used to be a lawn that required constant upkeep is now a low-maintenance source of food for a community.

The organization’s goal, as posted on their website, is “to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food and rehabilitate our local ecosystem.” Essentially, they’ve created a space where people can connect and make a positive contribution in a pretty special way.

Over the past seven years, two acres of the 7-acre design plan have been installed, and phase two is now underway.

Strolling through the meandering paths was such a peaceful way to spend the afternoon. From the unique structural installations to the unfamiliar plants (that I wouldn’t have been able to identify had it not been for their carefully placed labels) to the multi-functional aspects of the site–in short, there was a lot to absorb and understand.

One moment I was mesmerized by a tiny bee gliding across a flower, and the next I was jolted out of my trance, glancing upward at a giant airplane flying overhead. That’s part of what makes this food forest so unusual. It isn’t something you’d expect to see in an urban area.

I imagined groups of strangers gathering to learn from one another, accumulating valuable minutes of physical activity that supported their health independent of the nutritious food they were growing. And I imagined children learning how to grow food for perhaps the first time, with a look of wonder on their small faces.

The project serves as a great example of what is possible when people come together for a common purpose.

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