With rising food costs you might be looking to supplement your diet with as much free produce as possible. To do so, you may just have to stroll down to the park. The city of Andernach in Germany is one of the world’s ‘edible cities’. Andernach has parks that have been turned into orchards where you are free to pluck and take whatever you desire from low-hanging fruits and bushes.
A recent report explains that this town- which sits by the Rhine River Valley- is one of the “edible cities” throughout the globe. Speaking in an interview with The Washington Post, the organizers of the city stated that ever since this program was launched in 2010, there was never a problem of people taking more than they needed to eat. As it turns out, even if someone were to grab an entire bag of vegetables- there would still be enough to go around.
Edible Cities Are Spreading Its Wings
The city team coordinator for the Edible Cities Network, Bettina Schneider, stated, “Many here are very proud when you talk to them about our edible city.” The coordinator also went on to claim that a large portion of the orchards and the public gardens in this city had been an inspiration for other cities in the country. Also, several other countries in the European Union were following suit. Currently, the entire network has around 150 cities globally with vegetable gardens and fruit trees placed in public places where anyone would be able to access them- free of charge. The network receives major funding from the European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union.
According to Schneider, the entire land used for Edible Cities was transformed into orchards and fruiting gardens. This was definitely quite a sight over its previous overgrown nature. Currently, the medieval moat present in the town finds itself filled with lush almond, peach, and pear trees. Every vacant space near a school has also been transformed into community vegetable patches. Another coordinator of the project, Marisa Pettit, went on to share that, “every partner organization in the project receives funding from the EU budget to carry out their work.”
Other cities under the program receive funding for “living labs.” These are green spaces where residents can hold community events and develop their own plans to help their urban gardens to thrive and produce bountiful harvests.
The Network’s Growth Promotes Sustainable Population Growth
One of the principal investigators for the Edible Cities network, Ina Samuel, stated, “Public green natural spaces in cities are incredibly valuable, and even more so as temperatures rise and cities become more densely populated.” The investigator went on to explain that the goal of the program was to keep encouraging people to start getting involved with this project rather than just think of them as passive places. Interestingly, several cities in the United States have also brought out such projects. There are multiple lands from Seattle to North Carolina where people can take and pick from fruiting trees and bushes.
The Edible Cities network has also found a firm footing in Detroit, which has an urban farming movement. In Philadelphia, one would find food forests, while Los Angeles and Atlanta are home to edible community projects. Other cities in the country- which are smaller- like Hyattsville and Bloomington- also have vegetable gardens and fruit trees that anyone can access. A community organizer at Bountiful Cities, Lynx Bergdahl, stated, “Anyone can get whatever they want, when they want it. This is about taking away as many barriers as possible to create public food access, whether somebody wants a single apple or an entire basket.”
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Food For All
Elise Evans, one of the volunteers for the Edible Cities project, recently, mentioned, “We have seven acres to work with, and we’ve used about half that so far. To create something from a blank hillside was a big deal. Ou harvest truly offers something for everyone and it’s based on trust. People take what they need and are fed for free, and that’s an empowering feeling.”
The official Twitter account for Edible Cities Network did have a lot to say about the city of Andernach- “Andernach uses public spaces to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs anyone can pick free of charge. The project has been a hit with locals. For some, it’s been life-changing.”
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- “These cities turned parks into orchards where anyone can pick for free.” Washington Post. Cathy Free. October 10, 2022.
- “These ‘edible cities’ turned parks into orchards where people are free to pick whatever they need.” Upworthy. Jisha Joseph. October 10, 2022