The Rotterdam Food Forest is designed by Coöperatie Ondergrond according to food forest principles. Working with various stakeholders and organisations, food forests and forest gardens are established as a decentralised food forest across urban and peri-urban Rotterdam. Each of these food forests and gardens are multifunctional. They align food production with natural processes, offer green oases within the city, provide air purification and carbon storage, cycle water runoff to relieve the city’s sewage and create biodiversity stepping stones across Rotterdam for urban creatures and critters.
Next to this, the Rotterdam Food Forest exposes urban residents to forest ecosystems and what it means to grow food well. Many city residents are disconnected with nature outside of urban areas. They may not even know where their food comes from. This leads to disruptions and degradation in ecosystems across the world. By visiting forest gardens, city residents are exposed to the functioning of natural forest ecosystems. The gardens ignite natural interest and give people an opportunity to learn about ecological processes, trees, plants and the magic of the soil community. This natural exposure stimulates curiosity, allowing people to explore, become inspired and become food conscious.
In the Rotterdam region, there are also several agricultural food forest projects in the countryside, ranging from 6 to 15 hectares, as part of the Duurzame Doorbraak program setup by Stichting Voedselbosbouw Nederland. The projects, developed with farmers, entrepreneurs and landowners are either in development or are being planted. The Rotterdam Food Forest creates a support base and a potential market for food forest products which these larger agricultural projects can profit from.
By working both in the city and the countryside and by linking these two worlds together, Coöoperatie Ondergrond work on changing the food system from both ends.