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The City Food Commons

Growing an Urban Food Forest in a Public Park to Feed the Community



The City Food Commons shares the story of Roimata Food Commons, an urban food forest initiative driven by Ōtautahi Christchurch local Michael Reynolds. The aim of the project is to empower the community to co-create space in a public park, reviving the notion of the Commons, which was once so common in societies around the world.

Planting began in 2017 – “we got permission [from Council] to plant 30 trees, so we planted 65” – and the food forest systems of the park now contain over 100 fruit and nut trees, many of them heritage trees, as well as over 1000 native plants, herbs, berries, vegetables, flowers, and perennial plants.

Michael calls the Commons “a step away from the transactional relationship that dominates the way that we act in the world”. The term Commons refers to a space that holds or creates resources that are nurtured by the community for the long term benefit of the community.

While the community is welcomed to working bees and planting days, participating in them is not a criteria for accessing the fruit and vegetables within. This free access to quality organic food is one of the many benefits of this Commons. Another is the community connections created as a result of coming together in the space. In addition, Michael has been able to convince the local council to stop spraying and to reduce mowing, a massive cost saving to the council that it would benefit from if more public parks were managed in this way.

Like all projects of this nature, accessing funding to employ people to maintain the Commons and undertake the work of connecting the community around it is a constant and often inhibiting challenge. But once these projects really get going they can become community-managed and really prove their worth to the community. Please help us share this film and inspire others to undertake similar projects in their own public spaces!

Other films you might like

Growing Wild Together

In Growing Wild Together we return to the nearly 30-year-old food forest growing on 2 acres of urban land in the very south of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Fools & Dreamers

The incredible story of how degraded gorse-infested farmland has been regenerated back into beautiful native forest over the course of 30 years.

An Invitation for Wildness

Dive into Robert and Robyn Guyton’s amazing 23-year-old food forest where the 2-acre property has been transformed from a neglected piece of land into a thriving ecosystem.

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