The Rotterdam Food Forest is a decentralised forest network of more than 15 locations. This network provides a practical and sustainable way for inner-city regreening, while giving urban residents a chance to interact with the natural world – right in the heart of the city.
Many city residents are disconnected with nature outside of urban areas. They may not even know where their food comes from. This fosters a lack of natural awareness and creates misunderstanding about nature – leading to disruptions and degradation in ecosystems across the world. By visiting forest gardens, city residents are exposed to the functioning of natural forest ecosystems. The gardens ignite natural interest and give people an opportunity to learn about ecological processes, trees, plants and the magic of the soil community. This natural exposure stimulates curiosity, allowing people to explore, become inspired and find out what it means to grow food well.
The Rotterdam Food Forest is designed by Coöperatie Ondergrond according to food forest principles. Working with various stakeholders and organisations, food forests and forest gardens are established across urban and peri-urban Rotterdam. By selecting the right tree, shrub and plant species, a forest garden becomes a self-sustaining, long-term and resilient food production system. The gardens are multifunctional. They combine food production with nature, offer green oases within the city, provide air purification and carbon storage, cycle water runoff to relieve the city’s sewage and create biodiversity stepping stones across Rotterdam for urban creatures and critters.
The Rotterdam Food Forest
20 year vision
The Rotterdam Food Forest connects green spaces across the urban environment. This rich network provides habitat for local biodiversity while offering abundant, local food production. Thanks to a thriving food forest industry of chefs and innovative producers, Rotterdam residents have a better idea of where their food comes from. Meanwhile, they foster deeper connections with the natural world. This awareness makes people think differently about natural processes and degradation beyond their city.
Many forest garden locations start as old school yards
- Rotterdam residents are exposed to natural processes and build natural connections
- People are proud to harvest edible goods from within the city, all year round
- People become connected with forest gardens within the city
- Dilapidated and abandoned inner-city spaces are a thing of the past
Planting forest gardens puts people in connection with natural processes
- Employment opportunities are created by converting inner-city locations into edible gardens
- Consumers have greater connection to food production
- There are “ecosystem gardeners” who appreciate the interconnectedness of food production and biodiversity
Volunteers laying the foundation for a new forest garden in Rotterdam Zuid
- Forest gardens transformed tiled areas into safe havens for urban biodiversity
- The food forest locations throughout the city act as biodiversity stepping stones
- Greening the city means air purification, CO2 storage and lower city temperatures
The diversity of plants in a forest garden perfrom vital ecosystem services
- There is an ingrained industry of inner-city food production which provides restaurants and city residents alike
- The city’s sewer network is relieved from the excess rainwater runoff from the tiled school yards
- Educational programmes and training take place at the Rotterdam Edible Garden Academy
Steevy, a chef and forest gardener, harvests wild garlic to sell at a local market
Max talks to volunteers about his design decisions for this location - the Kleine Wereld in Kralingen, Rotterdam
Role of business
- Forest gardens offer a range of marketable goods
- A thriving forest garden industry provides employment opportunity
- Growing interests in food forest principles offers educational activities