Southern Heights Food Forest is the first of its kind in the nation. The 2 acre space in South Lincoln includes a full-sized, research-based outdoor classroom, over 50 community gardens, an urban agriculture plot, and Nebraska’s first food forest.
Our vision is to change the way we think about and value public space as a community. Creating a space where entire communities and families come together to interact with each other and build relationships. A space where children can play freely while learning about nature, where we teach each other about food, where people form multi-generational relationships – a catalyst for true community development.
It all began with a conversation in the spring of 2012. Staff from two Lincoln-based nonprofits—Community Crops and Nature Explore—asked each other, “How can we make community gardens more active spaces?” More importantly, “How can we start to transform these spaces into catalysts for real community-building?”
Shortly after that initial conversation, an opportunity arose to collaborate with Southern Heights Presbyterian Church, which is host to a plot of existing community gardens managed by Community Crops. After a year of welcoming the neighboring community onto their vacant two-acre plot, SHPC recognized that gardens were a great way to serve the community and wanted to expand the space. As conversations progressed, we began to see an opportunity for a dynamic partnership between these three organizations.
The Southern Heights Food Forest includes a variety of elements that will change the way we eat, play and interact as a community. The two-acre space will include Nebraska’s first Food Forest, a Nature Explore outdoor classroom, urban agriculture plots and an expansion of the existing community garden. By creating a dynamic space that is based around the value of food and the outdoors, we are creating a sanctuary for community development where children can play safely, we learn about the value of food, and most importantly where meaningful lifelong relationships are built within the Lincoln community.