An Interpretation of the Sandpoint Arboretum as a Societal Forest Garden
The arboretum is a striking and public example of a forest garden, though people may not think of it this way right now.
It is a forest insofar as it has a diverse mix of species filling different light-capturing. It is a garden insofar as it is not totally wild, or naturally occurring, and has a navigable human order imposed on it. It has a stated purpose, is an expression of a group’s ambition, was designed, implemented, and is managed~ all things we do with our forest gardens.
Think about how the arboretum behaves in its town-dominated ecosystem. On both an ecological and social level, its functions are numerous like the amount of species found in it. Run on volunteer/public support, it is the spirit of society and the work parties are its heartbeat. For starters, it
-performs biological functions of purifying air, cleaning water, building soil, sequestering carbon, and such.
-provides many layers of wildlife boon
-creates pretty, relaxed, natural views in the middle of ugly industrial ones right nearby.
-produces food (mostly berry-producing plants propagated from wild) people love getting to try.
-is a place for people to jog, walk, bike through safely
-serves a demonstration and education site for native plant knowledge.
-acts as a nexus space for community gathering
-brings a fresh change of pace where land is mostly covered up by pavement and structure.
No sensible person would think to log it for timber value. However, the day one of the massive trees is ready to come down, it has the potential to be used in a public, honored and special way. You would think most sensible people would want to be creating more! Just as it is one of Sandpoint’s finer places to take a walk, it also one of the town’s finer social accomplishments. I suspect It will serve as a valuable living genetic seed bank for all the locals when our society is ready to transition into the future. If there were more patches of huge trees around the town intermixed with patches of micro-forest gardened zones, who knows how high the quality of life could be in town or the productivity of that kind of system. It is absolutely possible to create these forest gardens, which fuse wilderness with society and repair both in doing so. Get involved. Learn from the forest. Why do we have places like arboretums have to be special and few?