The question of how to deal with visitors eager to take more than their fair share of the forest’s produce has been raised, and Glenn Herlihy, co-founder of the project, says that the only solution so far is to ensure that there is more than enough to go around. Herlihy’s primary concern right now is preparing the park for visitors and drawing residents of the diverse surrounding neighborhoods. Herlihy sees this as an opportunity for community-building, calling the Beacon Food Forest “a place where all ages and ethnicities can meet.” For the residents of this area, having a food forest would provide a sense of community as well as an important step forward in the realm of environmental justice.
Environmental justice is a little-known term for an important concept: the idea that all people have the right to the same basic rights, including fair distribution of negative environmental consequences. American Forests has addressed this idea with our Urban Forest Restoration Program, in conjunction with our friends at Alcoa Foundation, in Seattle’s West Duwamish Greenbelt area. The West Duwamish Greenbelt area, which is near Beacon Hill, experiences adverse effects from its proximity to one of the most polluted waterways in the country. More work still needs to be done across the country to ensure environmental justice for all citizens, but these projects are an important step forward.