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Front yard food forest brings this London neighbourhood together

Teresa Rutten has been cultivating a food forest in her front yard in a London neighbourhood since 2018. The food garden in the front yard of her house at Waterloo Street is fostering new ecosystems and bringing her neighbourhood together. Rutten is happy to share a healthy, locally grown variety of fruits, herbs and flowers with her neighbours.

A food forest, or food garden, mimics natural ecosystems like a forest to maximize crop yield. Teresa Rutten’s front yard on Waterloo Street in London, Ontario is filled with diverse vegetation, standing out among manicured lawns with its almond and peach trees, raspberry bushes, grapevines, and flowers. Rutten started her food forest to support wildlife and offer healthy, locally grown foods to her neighbours. She grows fruits like persimmons, plums, peaches, and grapes, as well as nuts and herbs.

The food forest has become a gathering spot in the neighbourhood where people meet each other, chat, pick their favourite foods, and share homemade dishes. Rutten believes that the food garden allows people to get to know each other and cultivates a sense of sharing resources. Her neighbours often come by to pick fresh fruits and veggies and, in turn, bring her fresh food and beverages prepared at their homes.

The neighbours love living next to the food forest as they enjoy walking by and picking fruits occasionally. “Having free, safe, and nutritious fruit available is amazing,” says one neighbour, noting that the food forest has become a social hub for the community.

Rutten’s neighbours credit her endeavours for expanding the local wildlife. The birdhouses installed by Rutten have provided shelter to birds, and neighbours are now able to see chickadees in the area. Rutten’s food garden has become a focal point and a community gathering spot for people to stop by, chat, and socialize.