Children from Kindcentrum Rijnvliet, recently nominated for the Rietveld Award can be found a lot in the food forest. In fact, the edible forest is part of the project education. Students can play, experience and learn about nature here. Facilities include a fruit maze with edible greenery, an outdoor classroom with sundial and water play area where they learn about the course of rivers.
Tree canopy path and artwork ‘Closer to the tree’
Artist Anouk Vogel made the food forest accessible to everyone in a special way with a four-meter-high loopburg. The artwork called “Closer to the Tree” is a looping walkway between the different layers of the food forest. From the bridge, hikers can pick fruit.
To the north of the Rijnvliet neighborhood is a food forest. This is a place for residents, visitors and neighbors of Rijnvliet to walk, play and enjoy nature. In the food forest are plants, trees and shrubs that people and animals can eat from. There is also an orchard for community activities and play areas for children to learn about nature. The food forest is over 15,000m2 in size.
What does the food forest look like?
The inspiration for the food forest is a natural forest. The forest is constructed in multiple layers with many different types of edible plants, trees and shrubs. After a few years, one can harvest from the food forest. Many goodies can be found such as fruits, nuts, roots and leaves. The food forest is also an important environment for insects and animals to live in. There is a mix of trees, plants and shrubs of different sizes. And there are playgrounds where children can play safely and benches to enjoy nature. The paths are made of recycled asphalt.
The orchard is the stage for neighborhood activities. Here there are all kinds of fruit trees. This place is meant to come together. Rijnvliet residents can organize activities for the neighborhood here. Like a picnic at the 3 picnic tables. There is also a kick field with a low stand (60 cm high) and 2 soccer goals.
The Rijnvliet Children’s Center is directly adjacent to the food forest. For elementary school students, there is an outdoor classroom with a sundial in the food forest. Children can also learn through play in other areas of the forest. For example, about the course of rivers at the water play area and about edible greenery at the fruit maze.
Walking along treetops
Next to the child center is the artwork “Closer to the Tree,” created by Anouk Vogel. This is a treetop trail on which children can walk higher and higher along the treetops. Access to the trail is from the school bridge or by stairs. Going down can also be done via the slide.
In 2018, archaeologists from the municipality discovered the Roman road in Rijnvliet. The Roman road is 2,000 years old and was part of the Lower Germanic Limes. This was the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Limes runs right through Utrecht. Since the summer of 2021, the Limes has been a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Roman road can be seen in the schoolyard of Kindcentrum Rijnvliet and in the food forest. In the ground we placed natural stones with slabs. There are also 4 information kiosks that tell more about the Romans in Utrecht.
Together with the neighborhood
We worked with residents on Rijksstraatweg, residents of Rijnvliet and the Rijnvliet Children’s Center to set up the food forest. We organized several meetings where ideas were shared.