The Roundabout Food Forest Gang (RFF) had a vision of returning a four block street and roundabout to a place to walk, connect, plant and harvest, including a pathway for walkers and bikes in a post-petroleum rebirth. RFF is calling for a permaculture-driven map free from City tentacles, long broken by bankruptcy and a 1950’s vision. Their roundabout cluster went off-grid when the utilities were unearthed and sent packing. Green technologies are in place now: water cachement, grey water, solar hub, and other shared earth-friendlies. The food forest was planted by the 16 original neighbors.
A bright green local seed for a change.
Today the “roundabout dirt share” includes large swathes of vegetables – currently producing tomatoes, zucchini, squash, kale, cabbage, celery, asparagus, and broccoli – as well as maturing fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, avocado, cherry, orange, tangerine, fig, and pomegranate.
Residential lots in each of the four directions emanating from the circle are spirit transformed; integrated. The Gang broke-up the concrete curbs and removed the asphalt streets. They removed the boulevards but kept the sidewalks. At the center circle stands an ancient dwarf Gala Apple Tree. Hummingbirds pollinate the food forest and the flowering veggies, sing, dance, play, have their babies and entertain the circle scene; they are watch dogs, messengers and teachers for the neighborhood. The residents put up hummingbird condos to facilitate the hummer’s pollinatic and dare devil ways.
Human elements now include benches, gravel paths, plants, a compost area, and a tool shed.
A permaculture food forest mimics some of the beneficial relationships of a natural forest. They are quick to point out that food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity. The food forest meets several goals:
a. To produce food
b. To produce forage for beneficial insects, pollinators, chickens and song birds
c. To create wildlife habitat to nurture for our bodies through herbal teas and concoctions
d. To create beauty and sense of well being
Four totem poles – one at each corner from the roundabout – are reserved as four activity spaces:
a. Yoga / stretching
b. Reading / quite conversations
c. Water fountain
d. Two picnic tables
Values > Invitation
At each totem, the working principles for the project are posted on a small plaque:
Use Local Resources First
Re-Use & Recycle
Hands-on, Peer-to Peer Learning
Horizontal Decision Making
Celebration > Hope > New Myths
At the “roundabout opening” celebration, children tie recycled purple cloth ribbons around the trunk and main limbs of the old Apple tree to show of unity with Nature and their new community intersection. Each ribbon represents a wish to put some energy back into their neighborhood, food forest and friends.
No one noticed a small person wearing a dark grey hoodie smiling at the crowd tonight, leaving the celebration early with an apple in his pocket.
He is the wise-old “Green Guardian” who lives in the hollowed-out roots of the Gala Apple Tree and keeps an eye out for kids, litter bugs and the birds.