First urban food forest planted in Mura-Drava-Danube project area

Posted: 6th April 2023

Photo: WWF Adria

Mura-Drava-Danube project partner WWF Adria began their “food forests” initiative by engaging the local community to start planting edible crops and fruit trees in the city of Koprivnica, northern Croatia. The food produced from these urban forests will be publicly and freely available. The food forest in Koprivnica is the first of many to be planted across the project landscape, with the aim of engaging communities across the area with restoration and sustainable practices.

Food forests are a low-maintenance, sustainable, plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. A food forest, also called a forest garden, is a diverse area of edible plants that attempts to mimic the ecosystems and patterns found in nature. Food forests are three-dimensional designs, with life extending in all directions – up, down, and out.

In order to be successful, restoration projects must benefit people living within the area. The food forests will provide free food and regenerate urban soils. Photo: WWF Adria.

Elementary School pupils participated in the planting campaign with the support of the school director, mayor of Koprivnica, the municipal utility company Komunalac, and experts from WWF. Before the planting, permaculture expert Irena Borovina held a short workshop on this sustainable method of growing organic food.

“The goal of the Mura-Drava-Danube project is to direct the biosphere reserve towards the long-term goal of complete ecosystem restoration, taking into account the impact on the local population and biological diversity, through the direct implementation of ecosystem restoration measures and work at the legislative level. Our main intention is to work in cooperation with the people who live here, and that is precisely why we are happy that the first forest of this kind has been planted in the heart of the project landscape”, says WWF water expert Branka Španiček.

Local volunteers helped to plant the food forest, engaging them further with the Mura-Drava-Danube project. Photo: WWF Adria.

The food forests will contribute to the restoration of the Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve through improving soil health and biodiversity, whilst providing tangible benefits to the communities within the project area. The soil will be enriched with organic substances and microbiomes, and becomes more and more fertile every year, unlike when only flowers or monocultures are planted. The food forests use native varieties of fruit trees and so restore nature towards its original state whilst at the same time giving people the opportunity to reconnect with the landscape and enjoy the benefits of food provision.

Being a permaculture, the food forests will be largely self-sustaining, but if maintenance is needed the municipal utility companies in Koprivnica and in Sombor have agreed to conduct any work required.

To find out more about the Mura-Drava-Danube project, visit their project page.  

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