Food forests address a number of climate change and sustainability challenges. They mimic natural forest ecosystems with a majority of plants being edible such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, and medicinal plants. In the U.S., more than 90 food forests and forest gardens exist.
In Arizona, there is a growing community of practitioners and scholars interested in creating new food forests by using available evidence from existing ones (U.S. and worldwide). While there is strong interest, knowledge, skills, and resources are limited, and thus a support network is needed.
Over the past two years, researchers in the Sustainable Food Economy Lab at ASU’s School of Sustainability have visited and conducted a broad comparative study on food forests in North America, South America, and Europe (Albrecht & Wiek, 2020a). In addition, we have visited several food forests (and forest gardens) in Arizona and engaged with various partnering organizations to create a food forest at Spaces of Opportunity (urban farm incubator) in South Phoenix (Albrecht & Wiek, 2020b). An in-depth comparative study is currently also being conducted on a food forest project in Lüneburg, Germany (Albrecht & Wiek, 2020c). From our research projects and practical collaborations, we got the impression that the time is ripe to bring the community of food forest stakeholders together.
So, we organized a stakeholder workshop in December 2019 with the objectives: to familiarize participants with food forests in Arizona (case studies); to discuss opportunities, challenges, and coping strategies when implementing food forests in Arizona; and to provide networking opportunities for stakeholders from different parts of the state.
The workshop brought together 16 participants from universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations across Arizona, including practitioners, scholars, experts, entrepreneurs, and newcomers. The workshop activities offered a variety of options for exchange and joint learning. The insights are compiled in this report.
On request of several participants, we also provide some background information on food forests, the challenges they address, and the benefits they are generating. We are currently finishing a series of relevant publications that we will make accessible to the participants, too.
It seems that the community of food forest stakeholders is off to a good start with respect to exchanging insights and experiences, informing about upcoming opportunities, coordinating activities, and partnering on new food forest initiatives. This should provide motivation for further growing a state-wide food forest movement over the coming years and decades.
This is the preface of the report: Implementing Sustainable Food Forests. A Transfer Workshop for Stakeholders in Arizona. See link below for full report.
Albrecht, S., & Wiek, A. (2020). Implementing Sustainable Food Forests – A Transfer Workshop for Stakeholders in Arizona. Sustainable Food Economy Lab, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. https://web.asu.edu/slfee/publications-0
Albrecht, S. & Wiek, A. (2020a, in prep). Food Forests around the World – Size, Function, Viability, and Sustainability. Working Paper. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University.
Albrecht, S. & Wiek, A. (2020b, in prep). Creating Sustainable Food Forests – Insights from a Case Study in Phoenix, Arizona. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University.
Albrecht, S. & Wiek, A. (2020c, in prep). One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – The Attempt and Perils of Developing a Food Forest through a Multi-Stakeholder Coalition in Germany. Working Paper. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University.