Assateague Coastal Trust
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Berlin Edible Forest Garden

ACT, in partnership with the Town of Berlin, Delaware Permaculture, and Stephen Decatur Middle School, is working to design and build an edible forest garden in Stephen Decatur Park in Berlin, Maryland. The Edible Forest Garden will function as an on-going, multiyear service-learning project for Stephen Decatur Middle School’s 8th grade class. The students will be involved in every step of the process from designing the forest garden to planting the beds in the spring.

What is an Edible Forest Garden?

An Edible Forest Garden is an edible ecosystem; a consciously designed community of mutually beneficial plants intended for human food production. They are comprised of a myriad of different perennial plants that grow well together. Each plant or tree also servers multiple purposes in the ecosystem (i.e. trees provides shade and produces nuts). There are 7 layers of an Edible Forest Garden that make it sustainable.

Image Credit: http://www.onecommunityglobal.org

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org

  • Canopy — tall trees (i.e. apple, pear, chestnuts, walnuts)
  • Low-tree layer — smaller trees (i.e. apricot, peach, nectarine, almond, mulberry)
  • Shrub layer — flowering, fruiting, and wildlife-attracting shrubs (i.e. blueberry, rose, hazelnut)
  • Herbaceous layer — non-woody, soft stem plants (i.e. vegetables, flowers, cover crops, cooking herbs)
  • Ground cover layer — low plants that grow close to the ground and make conditions difficult for weeds to grow (i.e. strawberries, nasturtiums, thyme)
  • Root layer — plants that grow underground (i.e. garlic, onions, carrots)
  • Vine layer — plants that grow vertically around trees (i.e. grapes) 

 

The Site for the Berlin Edible Forest Garden

The site is located in Stephen Decatur Park off of Tripoli Street. The site is located on the north side of the park next to the nature walk and a parking lot. Currently, trees line the edge of the parking lot and grass covers the rest of the site. A no-mow area exists, with several birdhouses, at the back of the site.

Arial of Stephen Decatur Park

Englarged Proposed Edible Forest Garden Area

Partners For the Project

Assateague Coastal Trust will be providing leadership and management through the upcoming years, and will facilitate the project with Stephen Decatur Middle School.

Delaware Permaculture is a family owned business in northern Delaware that specializes in permaculture education. They are providing technical assistance in designing and constructing the edible forest garden.

Stephen Decatur Middle School students will be involved with every step of the project. They will research the plants and trees; have input in the design and layout of the garden; help prepare the site in November; help make the interpretive signs for the forest garden; and plant the beds in May.

Volunteer Committee — ACT is working to form a Volunteer Committee comprised of community members interested in the success of the project. The group will steward the forest garden in future years and help provide educational programing interpreting the site.

If you are interested in helping with this project, Contact Dorothy Baker at 410-629-1538 or dorothybaker@ACTforBays.org

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