Austin City Council approves edible landscaping on public parkland

Sep 9, 2014 | 0 comments

Austin, TX ­- It may sound far-­fetched, but the newly­-passed, 99­-acre Holly Shores Master Plan
includes an edible forest garden, free and open to the public, on a patch of parkland just east of
I-­35. Adding to the already bustling local food movement in Austin, the Festival Beach Food
Forest (FBFF) is a pilot project to grow fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs on city­-owned land,
using novel low­-water and low-­maintenance methods.

On a household scale, growing food in East Austin is nothing new. Once inhabited by Native
Americans, then by German and Swedish farmers, and Mexican American families, the rich soil
of the surrounding neighborhoods has supported residents for generations. Today, food forests
already provide organic produce and hands­-on garden education at several local schools, thanks
to the leadership of students and teachers in partnership with the Austin Permaculture Guild and
EcoRise Youth Innovations.

Building on this legacy, the East Feast Coalition is working to make larger public agriculture
projects easier to establish. The Coalition’s FBFF project envisions 2 acres of parkland
transformed into a verdant and productive edible forest ­- with no fences. Produce will be freely
available to neighborhood residents, the RBJ Center food bank, and other members of the
public. Urban Patchwork (FBFF’s parent nonprofit), the City of Austin’s Sustainable Urban
Agriculture and Community Garden Program, Urban Forestry Program, and other city officials
are collaborating to support the delicious vision.

Neighborhood activists have passionately persevered to protect the natural tranquility and
neighborhood character of Holly Shores since the 1970s, and the Master Plan officially protects
the area from commercial development. As a community resource, the food forest will be tended
by volunteer stewards from surrounding neighborhoods, and independently financed by grants
and donations.

The adjacent Festival Beach Community Garden, an FBFF ally, already supports a diverse
membership, including members of the Multicultural Refugee Coalition as well as neighborhood
residents. In solidarity, FBFF aims to empower all Austin residents with agricultural knowledge
through experiential learning.

This low­-maintenance approach to agriculture is drawn from ancient methods. By utilizing
natural processes and careful design, maintenance requirements for a food forest can drop
steadily after the initial landscaping, planting and mulching, reaching maturity after about a

For more information, to volunteer, or to request a presentation for your neighborhood
association or group, contact the East Feast Coalition at, or visit

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