There's a great initiative cropping up in some progressive cities, and the word "cropping" is no mistake. Urban Food Forests, like the Beacon Food Forest Permaculture Project in Seattle, are making food foraging cool. On land owned by the city, they are planting lush edible landscapes with fruit trees, a berry patch, a nut grove, community gardens, a gathering plaza for education and events, and a kid's area to get the whole family involved. The idea is that anyone can come pick fresh food for their own consumption.

All told, the project is seven acres of healthy habitat renewal that also commits urban energy toward community well-being. Local volunteers and some like-minded businesses and organizations do most of the boots on the ground, gloves in the soil dirty work, and all interested parties reap the benefits. They even provide some family plots if you want to do some gardening of your own within the "forest."

Got an unsightly vacant lot in your neighborhood?  What if it was growing apples and almonds instead of broken glass and plastic bags? The passions of a community coming together can make miracles happen just about anywhere.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project ( Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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