Food Forests for creating multifunctional urban green spaces through community gardening

Chair:  Jennifer Schulz , (
Co-chair:  Torsten Lipp, (

Short  Description:
Growing demands from citizens for urban gardening, edible cities, for biodiversity habitats in green spaces, residential green areas that provide climate regulation, as well as citizens´ demand for participation on these issues have become apparent in recent years in European cities. A relatively new form of urban agriculture, Urban Food Forests, are a promising approach to achieve several of the above mentioned goals in a form of complex agroforesty system, which imitates the structure of natural woodlands, combining edible plant species in several vegetation layers. Through the structural similarity of food forests to natural woodlands, ecological and climatic functions (e.g., cooling, soil conservation, biodiversity habitat) may approach the ecological functions of forests with increasing age of the system. Hence, food forests enable the production of food with the improvement of multiple ecological functions in urban areas and have first been described as Urban Food Forests in 2013 with examples in the US and the UK (Clark & Nicholas, 2013). As Urban Food Forests seem to be increasingly implemented in several North American and European cities as a new form of urban community gardens, this session aims to assemble research and facilitate discussions on Urban Food Forests concerning social, as well as ecological functions and benefits. However, the long-term perspective of food forests also poses several challenges concerning the legal implementation within green spaces regulations, as well as the management and collaboration capacities of citizens and city planning departments. Hence, examples and insights on planning approaches, implementation examples, such as insights on role models for collaboration and partnerships as a basis for securing the long-term development of Urban Food Forests in public green spaces are also welcome.
Reference: Clark, KH & Nicholas, KA. 2013. Landscape Ecology, (28)1649-69.