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Design a Food Forest

Students design a plan for a food forest in their community. The plan includes details about location, content, maintenance, customer base and funding.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, create a list of fruits and vegetables students like to eat. Add to that list any other types of produce that they may not love but are served on a regular basis. 
  2. Point out that not all of the fruits and vegetables they see on their plates or in the grocery store are grown locally. Fruits and vegetables require specific conditions to grow. And the climate in your area might make it difficult or impossible to grow some of the items on your list. Those food items are most likely shipped in from somewhere else in the world.
  3. Using the list as a starting point, instruct students to conduct research to identify which fruits and vegetables grow best in your area.
  4. Based on the results of that research, have students design a food forest for your local area. Challenge students to identify a site and create a list of contents. Then have them identify potential consumers, describe how the food forest would be maintained and explain how they would get the funds to pay for the project.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to present their final plan to school or community leaders. Lobby for permission to turn the plan into a working program to put in a food forest in your local area.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:   

Grades 3-4:
Guide the class as students conduct research to identify locally grown fruits and vegetables. Work together to design a viable food forest. Invite experts, such as area farmers or managers of the local nursery, to visit the class and share their knowledge. Encourage students to ask relevant questions of each expert. 

Grades 5-6:
Instruct students to conduct research to identify experts on locally grown fruits and vegetables. Invite these experts to visit the class and share their knowledge. Point out that each fruit and vegetable has a specific growing season. And, different types of produce grow in different ways. Encourage students to ask insightful questions to learn about growing seasons and how various types of produce grow.

Grades 7-8:
As a class, identify key people to talk to and key issues that must be considered when designing a food forest. Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one contact or issue. Encourage students to interview the person or conduct research about their specific issue. Rejoin as a class so students can share their information. Guide students as they combine the information to create one cohesive plan.

Grades 9-10:
Encourage students to select a team of supervisors. Each supervisor will oversee a specific area of the plan: location, content, maintenance, customer base and funding. Assign all other students to one area. Groups will create a list of important questions, identify key contacts and conduct research to find the answers related to their topic. You may wish to work with other classes or expand this into an all-school project. If students are able to get their final plan approved, encourage them to enlist the help of parents, siblings and other community members to get the food forest off the ground and keep it running on a regular basis.