Combining public space with edible gardens, the Bronx River Foodway might be the future of public park design.
By Danielle Beurteaux
January 1, 2019
The Foodway differs from a community garden in that the plants are part of the decorative landscaping—there are no separate plots with veggies in rows. Instead, visitors can follow the garden’s meandering path through medicinal plants, pollinator-friendly plants, fruit trees, nut trees, and berries—and they can harvest as they go.
Integrating gardening into public park design, the experiment offers fresh food to communities that lack it. The neighborhood surrounding the park has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country and is also considered a “food desert,” where fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables are hard to come by. This status is especially ironic, considering that the 113-acre Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, which is the hub for 130,000 truck deliveries throughout the region every year, is nearby.
In addition to feeding the community, the creation of the Foodway aims for the triple goals of encouraging park use, promoting food education, and creating a cleaner environment. “Food is an amazing way to engage the public and address all kinds of issues,” said Mario Yanez of Foodscape Designs and nonprofit inhabit earth, the permaculture designer who played a key role in develop the park’s planting plan.
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