One concern of mine is with certain dangers that could arise with someone eating food from a public permaculture project and get sick.
I feel any public works project like this needs legal guidelines in America. What if some kids gets poisoned by eating something they thought was edible. How do we protect against that?
I see two paths for project like this. First have it park of metro-park system with special access to pick food. Two Educate the neighborhood and the community needs to embrace the project.
Good luck, it sounds great! I hope it works well long term.
For design ideas mine are influence by Northeast Ohio, but her are a few thoughts.
In order for mainstream to except permaculture it helps to make it look clean at first. Around here I would propose berry bushes along wide paths with lavander, sage, and Echinacea mixed in and other perennials. Make the paths edible borders be symmetrical. On the back park of the garden beds away from path add companion plants. Next layer could be fruittrees and companion trees. Have benches along paths.
This is a situation where the food forest idea may not be the right idea.
While these work great in private settings, once you try to apply it to public space, where children of all ages will most likely be present,
you run into safety issues as mentioned by Steve Taylor.
Now if you can make certain that the powers that be understand the concept and that the forest will be providing good, healthful food to the park visitors, then you just need to get the community involved with maintenance so it will thrive.
You may find the council receptive and willing or you may find that a longer term approach to the food forest end goal is needed for them to approve the idea.
Good luck, if you can present the council with a landscape drawing so they can see what it would look like once planted, that is usually a great selling device.
Lots of city councils are approving community gardens, where those who benefit also do the work of planting and maintenance.
A plan that shows a food forest operating the same way should get lots of applause.
GOOD IDEAS from the last weeks permaculture convergence meetings: Re-Brand your PCDesign project to include it in a plan for disaster preparedness funding.
There are big funds coming down the pike right now. Your project should have friendly packed council hearing rooms with many folks presenting evidence of how permaculture and food forests contribute to the national security, protect the ( and restore ) the environmental damages of flood, other scary disasters, etc.
How about local foods? Don't they help when fuel supplies are limited or when grocery shelves are made bare by hording before storms, etc?
Build your case and get a share of the funds which would otherwise tend to build the fear/police state. Build a WHOLE local food safety net instead.
Don't doubt for a minute that your permaculture efforts make us all more secure. Get your municipal parks to contribute to the public effort and plan plantings for local food security, environmental protection, resource conservation, grazing stockpiling.... What benefits am I forgetting?