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Utrecht

Utrecht will have a food forest, in the middle of a neighbourhood

Utrecht will have a food forest, in the middle of a neighbourhood

Every tree will bear edible fruit

A forest where every plant is edible will soon appear in the Dutch city of Utrecht, announced the local authorities last week. The food forest of 15,000 square metres will be in the new residential area of Rijnvliet which has itself been designed in 2017 so that each plant in the public space can bear edible fruit.

Building upon the concept of urban forests

The food forest is different than an ordinary forest in that it is composed of predominantly food-producing greenery. It consists of several layers of edible plants, trees and shrubs, and is an important habitat for insects and animals. 

The future forest will be entirely integrated into the residential area, which is a first for the Netherlands. It will thus be a place where children can play and learn about nature from up-close.

It will provide a lot of space for recreation, too, with a neighbourhood orchard and a football field, water play areas and an outdoor classroom at the primary school. The construction of the northern part of the central food forest, which borders the primary school will start next year.

Our city is growing very fast to 400 thousand inhabitants in 2024. That means that we must build a lot of houses,” explained alderman Klaas Verschuure responsible for Spatial Development and Leidsche Rijn. “Our starting point is a healthy urban life for everyone. That principle comes into its own in Rijnvliet with the food forest: a beautiful new 'edible' neighbourhood where there is plenty of attention for nature and sustainability. A neighbourhood to eat!

The high diversity of planting in the food forest creates a stable and resilient ecosystem. Its construction was the idea of local residents and was followed by the development of a special concept for the public space together with the municipality. The plan for the layout of the food forest has been elaborated by Food Forestry Development, Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners and De Zwarte Hond.

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