Four residents of Huizen have started an initiative for a food forest in their municipality. The city park along the Randweg, between the heath and the Stad en Lande district, is the ideal place for this. If they get support from the municipality, it should be possible in a few years for the Huizers to pick free food in this new piece of green.
Margot Leeuwin is the spiritual mother of the food forest proposal. De Huizense, also known as a PvdA councillor, got the idea last year when she read the book ‘It is possible’. It contains all sorts of ideas about a greener, fairer and more enjoyable life.
“I also read about a food forest in it. I immediately thought it was a fine project for the community and also with educational value for children. I went into it more closely and went out and looked in Almere, where the nearest food forest is, because . i We don’t have an in ‘t Gooi,” says Leeuwin.
She soon realized that it is actually a very big job to realize a food forest. She called in the help of Karin Rienstra, who knows Leeuwin from the city council. After the GrønLinks councilor enthusiastically joined, Jan Lauffer and Marit Grasman also offered their help. They are now the faces of the Food Forest Houses.
A food forest; what is it exactly?
Strictly speaking, a food forest is an agricultural method where trees and shrubs produce edible products such as fruits, nuts, edible leaves, flowers and shoots. The forest functions biologically as a forest. This means that it delivers completely by itself. No fertilizer or water is added. “It is therefore not gardening”, emphasizes promoter Margot Leeuwin. In addition, the forest is maintenance-friendly and self-regulating.
The four continued to work out the plan. Putting everything on paper is one thing, but if you don’t have a place where you can actually develop a food forest, this new natural plant will never happen. Finding a suitable location proved to be the most difficult of all.
They knocked on the door of the nature reserve Goois, private individuals and farmers. Each time the answer was no. Eventually, the idea took off when landscapers heard about the food forest initiative. A search started, and that’s how the park along the Randweg came into view. “This is a golden opportunity,” reports Leeuwin.
If Huizen agrees, the foundation will have 1.1 hectares at its disposal. Should the food forest catch on, expansion is possible in the further future. Then it concerns the adjacent part – literally the other side of the ditch – of 0.9 hectares.
For the record: The municipality remains the owner of the land. The foundation leases the land for a nominal fee, explains Leeuwin. Construction and management takes place in consultation with the municipality. The foundation is responsible for implementation and financing. “We’re going to the farm soon to get a grant.”
“I’m under no illusion that you can feed the entire Huizen with the food forest”
Because now nothing is certain. The idea is now at the town hall in Huizen as a citizens’ initiative. The municipal board first considers the proposal and then the council is asked for advice. Lauffer and Grasman are the foundation’s mouthpieces at that time.
The desire to create a food forest is not a response to the current expensive times. More and more people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, now that the prices of groceries, energy and petrol are skyrocketing. Leeuwin calls it a ‘good by-catch’ that people will soon be able to pick fruit and nuts for free.
“I’m not under the illusion that you can feed the whole Huizen with it,” says de Huizense. “Although there is quite a lot to be gained from it, it must develop. For example, you really need five or six years for walnut trees,” she nuances.
She doesn’t expect a stampede once the food forest is there. Although of course it is a public park where anyone can pick. “But you have a sort of unwritten rule, which reads: don’t pick more than you can carry. It’s only for your own use. It remains to be seen how it develops,” said the promoter.
According to Leeuwin, the first reactions to the food forest are positive. A food forest is good for climate change, ensures more biodiversity and should bring people and nature closer together. “It’s very appealing precisely because it’s so pure nature.”
Politicians will comment on the proposal next month. If the light is green, the fund needs, among other things, an administrator. And if all goes well, the fund can start planting next year, says Leeuwin. First, they will observe the earth for a year because it is necessary.
On Saturday, Leeuwin was a guest on the NH Gooi Saturday radio program. Listen to her interview via this link.