Environmental Economics and Management


Gold, Marion, M

Advisor Department

Natural Resources Science


Trandafir, Simona

Advisor Department

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics




sustainability; urban agriculture; forest garden; agroforestry; ecology; Providence; agriculture


An edible forest garden is a low-maintenance system that uses edible native and regionally-adapted plants arranged in beneficial relationships to meet human, wildlife and ecosystem needs. The forest garden in Roger Williams Park will transform underutilized urban land into a highly productive parcel producing market-viable fruits, nuts, vegetables, medicine and fiber. Forest gardens mimic natural forest systems in architecture and complexity. The design follows ecological principles to create a system that promotes biodiversity and enhances the surrounding ecosystem. This project also demonstrates the potential to grow food and create land-based livelihoods in the city.

Located on the edge of a USDA-designated "food desert" in Providence's lower south side, the Edible Forest Garden will supplement produce grown in the adjacent Roger Williams Park Community Garden. This increases the volume of fresh, locally produced food available to city-dwellers living in food insecure areas. The Edible Forest Garden will also serve as a living laboratory for environmental education opportunities. Through a partnership with URI Master Gardeners and community gardeners, residents will have the opportunity to actively participate in harvests and garden maintenance through a mentor program.

The Edible Forest Garden design will draw upon sustainable land use practices rooted in generations of indigenous culture, coupled with the latest scientific data concerning agriculture, forestry and ecology. This union of time-tested methods and peer-reviewed inquiry is the foundation for the planning, design and implementation of the Roger Williams Park Edible Forest Garden. Simply put, an edible forest garden is our best attempt at designing an ecosystem based on the complexities and layers found in natural systems, only we choose the course of ecological succession.