(December 16, 2021)
Students from 3rd grade Technasium from Keizer Karel College Amstelveen were challenged with a school challenge to design a food forest.
Commissioned by the province of Noord-Holland, the students started as landscape architects and physical planners with the landscape of the future. During this creative process, they had to take into account zoning plans, environmental opportunities and the combination of different subjects such as geography and biology.
After the clients had seen the presentations of 21 groups, a group from all 3 classes was chosen to present their food forest to deputy Esther Rommel (Nature and Landscape). Esther Rommel was impressed with the presentation. “The students have made beautiful designs and come up with fun ideas such as creating a meeting place for young and old, breeding fish in the pond and a food forest with the theme of Spanish cuisine. Only one could be the best. And this year it was team 6 in class 3T3, with Anita Oranghi, Famke Voogt, Imke Duijsens and Nienke Nugteren. They managed to win with a beautiful model and cheerful vlog. They are each given a tomato plant for the kitchen and given the opportunity to present their food forest to Amstelveen’s councilor Floor Gordon (Nature).
Click on the image to start the vlog
The project went live on 29 September at Keizer Karel College in Amstelveen. After an explanation in class about what food forests are and how zoning plans work, students set out on their own. Based on a search of various places, they got a better idea of edible plants, destinations and agriculture. That way, they were introduced to the concept of food forests in a fun way, and they could get a sense of where they would start with their project.
Then the students came to work on their own. With the necessary knowledge and an assignment booklet, the students had the choice of how they would approach the project. Some started with zoning, while others immediately dived into food forest design. A few groups decided to first conduct a soil study to determine the plant selection based on the pH value. The students have used different locations in Amstelveen for their design, but have unfortunately not yet found one where the realization of a food forest is actually allowed according to the current zoning plan.
Using sketches and computer programs, students then made spot plans and designs. Some even went so far as to make models that each one looked beautiful. And a very creative group created its entire food forest in the computer game Minecraft. Each group had thought carefully about what kind of food their forest should produce. Fruit trees, berry bushes and mushrooms could therefore be found in abundance in the design. Some groups also thought of food chains and nitrogen chains. Yet each design was different. There were designs with ponds, hills, benches and even one with a watchtower.
Model of the food forest
The student challenge is part of the Baas van Noord-Holland student program. With this program, the province wants to reach as many young people as possible and introduce them to politics and the work of the province. By challenging students in this way, they learn a lot about the importance of biodiversity, alternative cultivation methods, food and physical planning in a short time. The students themselves also thought it was a very nice project. With research as the most entertaining part for some, but for most, it really is the design process.