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    The essential role of urban food forests

    The BOP was founded on the belief that urban fruit trees and food forests must become an essential part of 21st century urban design. These trees – both individually and in clusters –  significantly contribute to environmental, social and personal health. More than just charming, decorative or marginal components of the urban landscape, we believed that fruit and nut trees and food forests can become integral and essential parts of urban food systems.

    Now, a new study published by the International Union of Forest Research Organization (IUFRO) confirms this. Entitled Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition, the study indicates “there is considerable evidence that suggests that forests and tree-based systems can play an important role in complementing agricultural production in providing better and more nutritionally- balanced diets … greater control over food consumption choices, particularly during lean seasons and periods of vulnerability (especially for marginalised groups); and deliver a broad set of ecosystem services which enhance and support crop production.”

    This is invaluable because “Despite impressive productivity increases, there is growing evidence that conventional agricultural strategies fall short of eliminating global hunger, result in unbalanced diets that lack nutritional diversity, enhance exposure of the most vulnerable groups to volatile food prices, and fail to recognise the long-term ecological consequences of intensified agricultural systems.”

    Tree-based systems of food production, including urban orchards and food forests that offer ready access, personal agency, economy possibilities and a degree of food sovereignty, can – and this study is arguing must – become an essential component of our global food system. The BOP is working hard to make that happen here in Baltimore.

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