The landscape applies the ecological relationships of a natural forest but uses, in this case, mainly edible species for food production. The ecological properties of different types of plants, shrubs and trees are combined in a smart way to create a stable and resilient ecosystem. Besides providing an abundance of food, the food forest also provides different ecological services such as habitat for insects and animals, mitigation of climate change and a pleasant environment for locals to relax.
As a former pasture area, Rijnvliet is regenerated and now the green outdoor space, natural waterways and food production connect people with each other and with nature. This connection is further strengthened because local residents and members of the Metaalkathedraal (ecological and cultural centre) were heavily involved as initiators in the realisation of the forest and also the new neighbourhood. The plan for the layout of the edible residential area was further developed by Food Forestry Development, Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners and De Zwarte Hond.
A recent article in the NRC newspaper, featuring several of the involved parties, shows that there is definitely success despite the slow and long process. For instance, Sarah Lisa Lugthart of Metaalkathedraal says: “This edible neighbourhood shows that it is really possible to cohabitate and interacting with nature in a different way.”
Ruben Jonker, project manager at the Municipality of Utrecht, also states in an interview that the Rijnvliet concept strengthens social cohesion and Wageningen University is currently researching this further. Under the name CULTiVATE, the research can be followed online and also highlights similar initiatives in other European cities. We look forward to the findings and see what we can learn from them for similar future projects.