Food Forests

Arcosanti Forest Garden

The 0,3ha Arcosanti forest garden is located at the experimental town and community Arcosanti. It is based one hour north of Phoenix, Arizona, where compared to the FFC, its higher altitude creates a milder desert environment. Planning started in 2019. During the first planting in 2021, mostly trees were planted including mulberry, apple, peach, plum, pear and persimmon. Some shrubs and understory exist and are planned to be further developed. Planting is slow but steady and based on donations and volunteer times. To date (Sep 2022), it is more managed like a community food forest. The vision entails to have one food forester generating an income from managing the site.

Arcosanti food forest with mostly the tree layer planted (Feb 2022)

The town Arcosanti was started in the 1970s by architect Paulo Soleri and aims at showcasing how architecture and ecology (arcology) can work together. It is located on 10 ha (25 acres) and surrounded by 1,640 ha (4,000 acres) of land preserve. The food forest is located on the lower part of the Arcosanti village next to the orchard and close to the volunteer accommodation. Produce is sold to the on-site café.

Site plan Arcosanti food forest by Kelly Baur

Arcosanti is operated by the Cosanti Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose main aim is to teach arcology. Tuitions, donations and the on-site bell-making enterprise Cosanti Originals, which sells sculptural wind bells, are financially supporting the visionary architectural project. Although ecology is a strong part of the architectural values, the wider community and its lead do not prioritize food production. Activities here mostly depend on the motivation, expertise and stamina of individuals.

Arcosanti town impressions

The food forest is part of Arco Agritecture, a microbusiness for local food production which includes greenhouses, a micro greens production, an orchard and cooperations with other farmers. It has been initiated by architect and long-time resident David Tollas. David has been involved with Arcosanti since 1981 in various positions from taking care of the wind bell production to being the Arcosanti construction manager. In 1983, he visited Auroville, a tree-rich ecovillage in India for the first time which inspired him to initiate the food forest at Arcosanti. His alley and friend Casey (Emerson) Jones, a local biology teacher, master gardener and former nursery manager, consults the project. Caseys’ garden is basically a food forest. Also, James Allan, forestry professor at Northern Arizona University supports the project by volunteering on-site, giving food forest related talks at Arcosanti events and bringing in students for project work. Diverse volunteers from university, local schools and visitors help the project grow, e.g., with site planning, planting and maintenance. Activities in the food forest include weekly workdays, educational workshops related to landscaping, gardening and agroforestry as well as events, such as farm-to-table dinners.