A Voyage into the Beacon Food Forest

There, we have arrived at the same incorrect preconception together.

“Food forest” is a bit of a misnomer. As my gardening friend explained to me, “Forests don’t actually create that much food.” That would be a garden. Which is what the food forest actually is. Also, the food forest is just a baby. At a mere two years old, it hasn’t exactly had time to develop the many-layered ecosystem it will eventually host.

And I knew my impression was bunk. It was part of why I wanted to go there. Because, honestly, this is what my brain conjured when I first heard “food forest”:

mushroom forestWhich, like, no. Try this on for size:

broadviewThere we are.

No, the Beacon Food Forest is not an enchanted land where you pick berries and split them with friendly foxes. Instead, it’s a rad community garden space that’s doing that magic thing gardens do, wherein the awesomeness snowballs as the garden matures.

So, welcome.

signLet’s take a wee tour.

pumpkinsWhere I grew up, gourds were purely decorative. I still find the Pacific Northwestern Annual Gourd fervor to be incredibly sweet. And sometimes a little savory.

Sorry. I’m just saying, if you need to seduce someone, I have a recipe for butternut squash tacos that will help you seal the deal, my friend. And if your pantsfriend-to-be isn’t into butternut squash tacos? Well, I would just ask you to really think twice about the choices you think you want to make.

squash blossomSquash blossoms!

That phrase makes me think of one of George W. Bush’s more awful staff nicknames. Every time. Sometimes the brain is a scumbag.

full pavilionThere, that’s better. How lovingly tended is this place? I remember when this hillside used to be this naked, stark thing, and now it’s the site of all this lovely gardening.

vinesThe vines! Almost every time I end up taking pictures in the vicinity of plants, I end up with several vine pictures. It’s a good motif to like in these parts.

scared crowUm, I think the crows won this one.

food forest friendship beeThis was inside the wee pavilion. Friendship bee!

stairsAfter that, walk up these stairs to the Jefferson Sports Meadow.

“Food forest?” I hear you ask. “Sports meadow? This is a blog of explorations, SD, not Mad Libs.”

No no! It’s a sports meadow. Apparently that’s what you call a lovely plateau of land that happens to sit above a good chunk of the city.

I mean, come on.

skylineLike it ain’t no thing.

But, uh, be careful on those stairs maybe. The day we were there, wasps and bees were having a fight to the death. Fortunately, all three of us emerged unscathed.

Which was good, because we had business to see to.

halo-haloThat business being halo-halo at Inay’s. I’d never had Filipino food, and, except for the dessert pictured above, I still haven’t. My friend inquired as to the presence of vegetarian food – or even something with just fish.

That earned us a quick shake of the head from the woman behind the counter.

Ok. Halo-halo it is. But if one’s going to have a consolation prize… yes, you could do worse.

So: give it time. Or maybe have a veg-themed afternoon. Take yourself to the food forest, observe some gourds, and then go just a little further to MacPherson’s and get a big bag of cheap fruit and veg and go home and make your own food forest. I don’t know what that means, but I hope you post pictures if you do it.