Festival Beach Food Forest Revisited

01.09.2019
Written by: Kirby Fry – All Images © Woody Welch 2019
Read our 2015 post on Festival Beach here

Three years after the design and installation of the Festival Beach Food Forest in Austin, Texas, Woody Welch and I had the pleasure of revisiting this amazing parkland food forest.  The trees and plants were doing exceptionally well, a wheel chair accessible decomposed granite walkway has since been added, along with several other mulched paths and park benches.  Woody got his drone in the air and was able to take some amazing shots of the site showing just how close the food forest is to the center of Austin, Texas.

  1. In late October of 2015, Earth Repair Corps partnered with Festival Beach Food Forest and Tree Folks to assist with the installation of a food forest in a public, highly-visible green space just north of Lady Bird Lake and east of Interstate Highway 35 right in the heart of growing Austin, Texas.

  1. The Festival Beach Food Forest team, Pete VanDyck, and I spent days surveying this site with laser levels and landscaping flags. First, we found the lowest spot on the site and then marked contour lines every 6” and up from there in elevation. What was revealed by that survey was that the park is shaped like a shallow bowl with a large drain passing through the middle of it that drains almost all of the water from Festival Beach Community Gardens and the apartment complex parking lot adjacent to the community gardens.

  1. Three conservation terraces were installed above and out of the way of the drainage system, 2 on the north side of the food forest and 1 on the south side. A tree boomerang / berm was built up with Geo Grower’s “berm builder” soil around one of the prominent live oaks, and 2 large berms were built up with the same material along the park’s perimeter that would eventually shield the site when planted from the automobile traffic along IH 35.

  1. Here is a good aerial shot of the Festival Beach Food Forest. Festival Beach Community Garden is right next door to the food forest.

  1. During this most recent visit, I thought that one of the most successful design elements was the hedge row planted on the perimeter berms. The Arizona cypress trees, and sable palms (both evergreens) had at least tripled in their size, and in just three years were doing a really great job of sheltering the park from the interstate highway.

  1. Another one of my favorite elements is the fruiting calendar that was planted on the longest terrace on the south east side of the park. If you’re standing in the center of the food forest and looking at the terrace, from left to right you will see – loquat, mulberry, peach, plum, apple, pear, pomegranate, and Asian persimmon. That is the same order that they will fruit throughout the calendar year.

  1. A new addition to the food forest since the original planting, olive trees.

  1. Underneath the live oak tree with the tree boomerang below it, I noticed a lot of beautiful native Texas plants had been established. Here is a shot of one of my favorites, sweet almond verbena.

  1. Also in full bloom, not too far from the sweet almond verbena were several loquat trees. I don’t think that I’ve ever really experienced the fragrance of loquat flowers before, they smelled wonderful. The loquats’ flowers had sure gotten the attention of the honey bees on this warm sunny winter day.

  1. The visual rock stars of the food forest were the arroyo sweet wood trees which were still holding on to their fall leaves.

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