Food Forests

Waldgarten Rehfelde

The 3ha food forest is located around 30km east of Berlin in a continental, temperate climate. The land was acquired in 2020 and consists of different land use types: agriculture, pasture, forest and a nature conservation area (FFH) with a lake. Compared to the other food forests, it is not directly connected to a larger institution like a university or experimental town, and is taking a strong community-centered approach to develop the food forest. In the first year, a few fruit, chestnut and acorns trees, and 200 currant shrubs have been planted on the site to have time for observing the place. Furthermore, experimental community garden beds and a CSA, both growing annual plants, as well as infrastructure like a fence, well, tool shed and tunnel greenhouse have been set up.

Site plan of Waldgarten Rehlfelde in Phase 1 with a market garden, a community garden and a tree nursery (M. Fritsch 2022)

Ramos, a former IT expert, is the initiator and driving force of the project. He was inspired and involved in the urban gardening scene at Peace of Land, an educational permaculture project centered around a forest garden in Berlin. His vision was to use food forest principles for larger food production. Hence, he started looking for agricultural land and like-minded people. In early 2020, a core team of 4 people started forming around him. The project is based on organizational principles of holocracy and works in circles on different topics like site search, community building or site design.

Treffen zum Experimentiergarten im Waldgarten Rehfelde (Bettina Sommer 2021)

By summer they had found a suitable site and the association Sarsarale e.V. through which they could apply for funding. Through a larger private donation, and 77 smaller crowdfunding donations (6.500€), they could fully finance the site by winter. In parallel, a vision building process took place using tools like dragon dreaming. In early 2021, first plantings of 30 fruit trees from Peace of Land started and a permaculture design circle started forming and planning the site design. Grants further supported the sites development (e.g., by Deutschen Postcode Lotterie).

Planting at the end of summer at Waldgarten Rehfelde (M. Fritsch 2022)

In 2021, a young gardener leased a part of their land for a CSA-start-up, however, discontinued in 2022. Now the group is self-organizing and continuing the CSA based the work and experience of their volunteer gardeners. They further have setup a tree nursery including climate-adapting trees and started a mushroom garden. Using the method of Akira Miyawaki, dense food forest structures are initiated by planting many fruit trees from seed. Using the method of Mark Shepard, another area is establishing a more planed food forest. .
People are connecting to the project during planting and support days for the CSA. Volunteers are from Berlin and increasingly are also residents from the surrounding area. After almost 2 years now, the process of arriving in the village community is well on its way. Due to the break in the CSA development, this process is taking a longer than planned, but it is on the right track.