Food Forests

BIU Food Forests in the News:


With the help of small grants and lots of committed volunteer hours, Build It Up has now grown and cares for three city food forests–public edible parks– and has also helped initiate a food forest at the Science Hill Alternative Center.

Build It Up Food Forester Taylor Malone teaches a lesson on permaculture, sustainable food systems, and community food justice for a high school field trip.



MHFF work day 2

A food forest is a type of community edible park that is grown based on Permaculture principles.  Permaculture is a holistic method of raising food that takes a whole systems approach to create self-sustaining, highly productive ecosystems on a given piece of land.  This practice emphasizes edible perennial plants, building topsoil, and intensively managing all resources.  Often, there is a lot of upfront work required to create a food forest, but the end result is a self-sustaining system that produces copious amounts of food, medicine, and other resources with little human intervention beyond harvesting.


The Tree Streets Food Forest is on land donated by the First United Methodist Church and is located at their Neighborhood Center on the corner of Maple St and Buffalo St.  The initial trees were purchased with a $250 grant from Appalachian Sustainable Development’s Trees that Feed project.  So far, the park includes apples, an Asian pear, blue plum, elderberries, service berry, fig, gooseberry, raspberries, blackberries, pawpaws and and native persimmon. We have constructed a rain barrel and a cob oven on this property.




The Mountain Home Food Forest was created through a partnership with the Targeted Communities Crime Reduction Project, a grant received by the Johnson City Police Department to reduce crime in certain neighborhoods.  The land is owned by Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation.  The park has been extensively sheet mulched in order to improve soil quality.  Planting will be conducted in the fall of 2014.  Other projects on this site include building a pergola out of locally harvested black locust posts and rain gardens to manage storm water runoff from the neighboring house.  Plants will include muscadine, mulberry, beach plum, hardy kiwi, American hazelnut, elderberries, horsetail, jujube, apple, and pear.


Pedro’s Food Forest 

Located off of Roan Street, Pedro’s Food Forest was grown on a land that a neighbor generously offered for the community. As Food Forester Taylor Malone planted seeds and the food trees grew, children from the neighborhood began coming to this Food Forest– to play, plant seeds with us, and harvest. It was at this location that Build It Up hosted our very first Community Food Forest Celebration, in the Fall of 2015. This has now grown to Food Forest Friday events that have over 50 children and families in attendance. These events focus on educating the public on sustainable food systems, how to plant, grow, harvest, and how to contribute to food justice work in our area.



Our second Food Forest Friday Community event focused on the shared harvest of sweet potatoes, after taking down the corn stalks and tying them as decoration in celebration of Fall.

Taking down the corn!

The big sweet tator harvest!

At the fire, roasting hot dogs & garden veggies!


Food Forest events often include wildcrafting–like this one, in which we showed the children how to craft their own candles from melted beeswax and recycled glass containers that they painted.