Food Forests

The Four Cases

Most stories from this handbook evolve around the implementation processes of four food forests that aim to work sustainably, integrating economic, social, and ecological goals. All four projects share similarities, but they are different in size, situated in different contexts, pursue somewhat different development paths, and will yield different overall results. This shows, there are many ways to a food forest. Reaching sustainability, especially in economics, is still an ongoing process for all of them and pursued by each site in different intensity (2023).

Table 1: Overview of the four food forests (2023)

Food ForestArcosanti Food ForestFood Forest Coop Phoenix (FFC Phx)Waldgarten Hof an den TeichenWaldgarten Rehfelde
Site contextEcological architectureUrban farmingPermaculture farmingNew start-up permaculture farm
LocationArcosanti, AZ, USAPhoenix, AZ, USAL√ľneburg, NI, GermanyRehfelde, BB, Germany
Climate zoneMild semi-aridHot semi-aridOceanicContinental
Staff3 full-time agriculture volunteers5 coop entrepreneurs 2 part-time gardnersHonorary 1 full-time and 3 part-time entrepreneurs, ~30 experimental garden volunteers
PartnersAcro Agrotecture (educational NGO), Arcosanti Foundation, Northern Arizona UniversitySpaces of Opportunity consortium, Arizona State UniversityFoundation & agricultural business, Leuphana UniversityAssociation Sarsarale e.V.
Site size0,3 ha0,5 ha1 ha3 ha
OwnershipPrivate (Foundation)Public-Private PartnershipPrivate (Foundation)

Private (Association)
Planning started in2019201920212020

While the Food Forest Co-op in Phoenix and the food forest at Hof an den Teichen have reached many milestones already, the sites at Arcosanti and Rehfelde are at an earlier stage of development mostly due to lack of funding and other resources. As I have closely accompanied and co-initiated the first two cases (FFC Phoenix and Hof an den Teichen), there is more in-depth data available on them. However, the material of this guide is reviewed by and co-produced with the managers of all four food forests.

Table 2: Milestones reached by the Food Forests (2021)

Food ForestArcosanti Food ForestFood Forest Coop Phoenix (FFC Phx)Waldgarten Hof an den TeichenWaldgarten Rehfelde
Results so farLand secured
 Comprehensive vision & action planVision & permaculture plan
Professional site planConcept
 Business plan
Partial fundingFull funding for implementationPartial funding
Major infrastructure: Irrigation & main paths
Mostly trees planted~50% of land fully planted, all strataSome trees planted, vegetable production

Further readings:

Food Forest Cooperative Phoenix
Arcosanti Forest Garden
Waldgarten Hof an den Teichen
Waldgarten Rehfelde