Creating Community Through Permaculture
written by Bronte Dod | photos by Jonathan H. Lee
When Jacqueline Cramer founded the Beacon Food Forest, she just wanted to grow food in the city. Living in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, Cramer saw an opportunity to create more access to natural spaces in urban areas.
“What we ended up finding in the experience is that we helped create a community,” Cramer said. “ The return on that has been so fueling for us and our lives.”
Founded in 2009, the Beacon Food Forest is a two-acre area of public land in Seattle that was transformed with edible plants. The idea stemmed from a final project for a permaculture design course that Cramer took with her friends. With an open harvest policy, anyone can pick food, harvest food or take food home at any time from the Beacon Food Forest.
Each week, the Beacon Food Forest hosts harvests as well as development meetings to involve the Beacon Hill neighborhood community in the project. Cramer points to the tangible nature of the work that keeps volunteers and the community engaged. “It’s something that you do with your hands and see a change,” she said.
Since the project began, Cramer and the team of volunteers have created educational opportunities around permaculture. With help from the city, Cramer and the volunteers engage in outreach to reach the entire community.
Soon, Beacon Food Forest will expand with nearly two more acres. Above all, Cramer hopes that the project will continue to cultivate a community. “Community is learning to do something together,” Cramer said. “ The result of the project was unexpected, but now it’s clear. If we can come together to create something, then we can come together to solve problems.”