Each piece of produce from a food forest or garden offers an opportunity for celebration, discussion, and social connection when we look more closely at how we can use the harvest to create deeper meaning and community fun. Apples trees, while somewhat difficult to grow due to diseases and pests, tend to be a fruit often included in food forest designs because they have one of the most recognizable fruits. Therefore, I thought it appropriate to start with this fruit and provide some ideas on how to use the common apple as a starting point for building some of the community capitals described in Chapter 3 (Capital Investments in Community Assets) of The Community Food Forest Handbook.
As we state in the book: “In its purest sense, capital is any mechanism, resource, or asset that improves performance- it does not have to be monetary. Capitals flow through a system, and they can accumulate or be depleted.” So let’s start with the apple as natural capital. Community members could just pick the apple and go on their way. However, you could also use the act of harvesting apples as an investment in other capitals. Here are three ways to so:
- Human capital by demonstrating or sharing different healthy recipes that include the apple (maybe make your variation of the Waldorf Salad);
- Cultural capital by exploring the history of the apple and how it has helped shape traditions. Here are some places to start:
- Cultural and Social capital by discussing traditional symbolism of the apple and using those as cues for deeper conversations among community members at an apple festival, harvesting day, or potluck. Here are some ideas to start:
- Review what was learned about tending the food forest over the last year.
- Did you know that the company Apple uses the fruit with a bite out of it because it symbolizes knowledge? Technology allows us to access a wide variety of knowledge and provides ways to educate ourselves- but how has helping to maintain a food forest provided access to knowledge, what kind of knowledge? why is it important? how were members able to educate themselves through the process or how was their curiosity sparked to learn more about something?
- Since fall is a time to regain balance- provide an opportunity for people to discuss the temptations in their life that might disrupt a sense of balance and how practices in the food forest can help them stay grounded during this time to not give into the temptations. Ex: while pruning back trees, ask people what could be pruned back in their lives to create more space for growth in the season ahead.