The Boston Food Forest Coalition (BFFC) is a non-profit community land trust for neighborhood “forest gardens”, with member sites in Dorchester, JP, East Boston, West End, and Mattapan. These edible public parks engage hundreds of volunteers annually, host annual harvest festivals and other community events, and grow relationships among neighbors, land and food.
In addition the coalition is building a growing “community of practice”, and hosts the Greater Boston Permaculture Guild, a Meetup with hundreds of annual events and a growing membership of over a thousand. BFFC’s office space is hosted by Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center, which provides us 1-acre of land for our flagship educational “forest garden” where we have been growing for two full seasons, and are in collaboration with co-located urban agriculture efforts (Boston Bee Keepers, Clark Cooper Community Garden, City Soil, and Mattapan Food and Fitness).The coalition is managed by an Executive Director and a group of dedicated volunteers working to establish a public food forest network throughout the City of Boston. This network consists of publicly accessible edible gardens, orchards, and food forests.
We seek to revive and conserve Boston’s established legacy orchards, as well as create new edible food forest sites, using permaculture, a design process based on the patterns found in nature to maximize yields while reducing maintenance. Each site should reflect the cultural preferences of the surrounding community, while offering access to healthy food for those who need it most and functioning as an educational and recreational space. BFFC connects urban youth and adults to nature for outdoor recreation, provides opportunities to grow and share food, and enables reflection about the importance of urban biodiversity and healthy eating habits; all while reducing rainwater runoff, mitigating the urban heat island, sequestering carbon, and reducing stress and violence.
What is a Food Forest?
A food forest is a sustainable land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem, focusing on food-producing trees and shrubs. In a food forest system, edible plants occupy a succession of layers—including upper level fruit and nut trees, middle level berry shrubs and vines, and lower level herbs, edible perennials, and annuals—to create an interconnected and productive whole. Intermixed with these edibles are beneficial plants that attract helpful, pest-controlling insects and that build healthy soil by providing nitrogen and mulch. Working together, this diverse collection of plants form functional relationships that maximize food yields while reducing the need for maintenance. This regenerative forest garden ecosystem offers a beautiful, ecologically healthy, and useful way to meet our most urgent human needs for food, shelter, water harvesting, and medicine.