End of Year Giving

With the recent certification of our Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom, we have come so far this year! The cold season is upon us and the Southern Heights Food Forest is focusing on going even further. Our sights are now set on building the food forest by filling it with sustainable plant material and we’ll need your help to change the landscape of Lincoln!

The food forest is a permaculture landscape design inspired by nature that creates an ecosystem through companion plantings of a wide variety of species. Hundreds of different plants will need to be placed in the ground for our vision to be realized. From large Bur Oaks to tiny White Clovers, these specimens will only find their home through support from you and our community. Our End of the Year Giving Campaign will give this project a needed boost towards completion. Any tax deductible contribution is appreciated and will provide one more step to bringing an inclusive ecological community to Lincoln.

Since our design represents the different levels seen in a native forest, our donation categories will reflect Canopy, understory or groundcover plants. Donating at the tree level ($50) will expand our canopy layer, providing shade for those walking down our trails and keeping moisture in the ground. Donating at the understory (Berry Bush $20) level will fill out large patches of land providing abundant fruit in short order. Donating for groundcover (pollinator $10) plants will increase fertility and promote the next stage of succession reducing the presence of “weeds”.

All donations will be pooled towards the next section of food forest to be completed, further fundraising and coordination of volunteers.

This is a great way to show someone you understand their passions by donating on their behalf! Once you’ve donated we will follow up with you and send a card on your behalf to the person you’re donating for.

Thank you so much for contributing to our shared vision and changing the landscape of Lincoln!

To donate click on the link below.

Donate Now

From Sprout to Sapling Part 3

In part one and two, we shared how the Southern Heights Food Forest started with the seed of an idea and became a strong young sapling through community support and hands on volunteering.

Now we bring you to April of 2016, when longtime volunteer, Adam Hintz, became our paid project coordinator taking this young sapling and giving it shape and strength to one day become a strong self-sustaining tree.

Long time volunteer, Adam Hintz, became our Project Coordinator in April 2016

With Give to Lincoln Day quickly approaching, plans were set in place to organize a benefit concert to raise awareness of the food forest and accept money which would be matched from a donation pool from the Lincoln Community Foundation and its supporters.

Local music veterans, Black Cohosh, who hadn’t performed in a couple of years, agreed to support the food forest and reunite for a special night of music at The Commons.

The reunion show/fundraiser was a great collaborative effort between the SHFF, Black Cohosh, Bogusman (who opened the show) and The Commons. X-Rated: Women in Music, a radio show on local station KZUM helped promote the event.

Alex Svoboda and Alex Houchin of Black Cohosh Promoting the benefit Show on KZUM

Even though Paul Simon was playing the same night in Lincoln, we had a great turn out, made lots of new friends and raised $400 to add to the $1000 raised on Give to Lincoln Day. Thanks to everyone who attended the concert and supported us on the day of giving!

In early June, Community Crops held their Garden Gala at the food forest. The couple of weeks leading up to the event brought us to the installation of the Southern Pollinator Garden, and a volunteer day to spruce up the area in general with a great turnout!

The newly installed southern pollinator garden and the great turnout to prep for the gala.

The Gala itself was a great celebration of community and gardening. Lots of families and green thumbs attended for a tour of the site, to play in the outdoor classroom and enjoy ice cream donated by Ivanna Cone.

Jim King fostering musical creativity at the Gala.

Father’s Day weekend brought us a helping hand from Johnson Control who planted Hazelnuts, Serviceberries and Plums. The hard working volunteers got 4o plants in the ground in just over an hour. A true showing of hard work and dedication to our project!

Johnson Control Volunteers Planting Hazelnuts and Serviceberries

In July, a Boy Scout project gifted us with the construction of raised beds for our outdoor classroom. Boy Scout Alex handled all aspects of planning and implementation for these wonderful additions to our classroom. Now, children can have a garden to themselves and can learn about growing food first hand!

A place for children to develop their gardening skills. Thanks Alex!

Later in July, Campbell’s Nursery and Julie Torquati donated Pear, Apple and Cherry trees to begin the orchard area connecting the food forest with the outdoor classroom. Because of their generous donations children will play and learn amongst the trees giving them inspiration and education of edible food systems.

Adding to the outdoor classroom, our invaluable volunteer Neil Kolder, brought us a “tree of interest” from his acreage south of Lincoln. This tree is now the home of many creative climbers and fort builders and brought a recognizable established presence to the classroom.

Neil, Carol Ann, Adam and Ken with our “Tree of Interest”

A new compost system designated for weed material only was built by another Boy Scout group in August. Thanks to Boy Scout Braeden’s leadership, we now have a place to put all of the plant material which would have just been thrown away!

Braeden and his Boy Scout group preparing to construct the compost bin.

Thanks to Mystic Rhodes Productions for connecting us!

Throughout the whole year, the pollinator garden planted the year before brought color and critters to the space. Bees, Butterflies, Moths, Wasps and Beetles all found food and forage in this space which received little additional water. Our work was really paying off!

Bee on Wild Senna


Monarch on Asters and Goldenrod

Beetle on Goldenrod

In September we planted even more prairie plants for the outdoor classroom. These landscapes gave the areas more definition. The day of planting, Memorial Day Weekend was very well attended and we made fast work of the 200 plants installed.

Lots of volunteers planting prairie plants in the outdoor classroom!

Coming up to the present we’ve just finished our first phase of our stage, are working on a storm water management system, installed a little free library and are preparing for another amazing Enchanted Food Forest Trunk or Treat on October 30th.

Looking forward to a lot of great performances!

Our little free library ready to be filled with books!

With our dedicated volunteer corp and project coordinator. We’ve gotten so much done in a few months. As the trees grow in the food forest, our little seed of a project has grown to a strong youthful sapling, it continues to grow up and out connecting to new and exciting parts of our community drawing nourishment from the ground and nurturing healthy relationships with our surroundings. Your help will make us even stronger! For more information on how to get involved email southernheightsfoodforest@gmail.com

From Sprout to Sapling Part 2

In part 1 we told the story of how the Southern Heights Food Forest grew from a seed to sprout. In 2014, our sprout began to grow branches, reaching out and up. As these branches grew, our volunteers began showing their strengths as organizers and community builders. More fertile soil was added to our roots through many kind contributions from local organizations.

In October of 2014 we had our first Annual Trunk or Treat at Southern Heights Presbyterian featuring the food forest. This brought a lot of congregation and community members to our space. It was also a very successful and fun fundraiser! Thanks to Carol Ann Anderson and her team for organizing it!

Our First Trunk or Treat!

In April of 2015, our very handy congregation members Dave Barnhouse, Jim Harder and Neil Kolder built us a shed with funds generously provided by Mystic Rhodes Productions. Now we had a place to protect our tools and wheelbarrows!

Also that month, we established our first pollinator garden provided by the Nebraska Environmental Trust. We had an amazing turnout and our community finally had a chance to bring the dream into reality. We sheet mulched the 400 square feet of what would later be the home of a multitude native plants and insects. At the same time we planted our first trees! Pecans! This was a big day for the Food Forest. It created stronger bonds through work and gave us the confidence to keep going!

Great turnout for setting up the pollinator beds!

In June of 2015 we continued with Elderberry, Chokecherries and Wild Plums! This was another day of fun in the sun! Not only were the Pecan trees growing but we also establish a whole new area of the food forest in our “Thicket Zone” with delicious berry and fruit bushes!

Heather and Gary planting Chokecherries

In August of 2015, Campbell’s Nursery and our volunteers installed the pathways for the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Campbell’s was very kind to charge us just for material costs which made it much more affordable to install this very large component of our vision. Now with these pathways in place, all community members can enjoy the benefits of outdoor education and creativity! Thanks very much to Heather Fox for her dedication to our outdoor classroom! I huge thank you to Rotary District 5650 for providing funding for the project!

So much changed in a few months!

We also came together for our first ever build party. Eleven Volunteers came together to build benches, an art easel and tables for our gathering, building and nature art areas. Once these pieces where put together and put in place, the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom became an inviting place for everyone to discover their creativity and building skills.

Building those benches!

We installed Persimmon, Paw Paw, Walnut, Hickory and Chestnut trees in November of 2015. With these trees in the ground the major components of the Food Forest where in place. Now all we needed was water, time, and mostly understory plants to complete the project! Which is what most of 2016 has been devoted to. Thanks to Bob Hendrickson of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum for his expertise in tree selection and providing us with the backbone of our great endeavor. It’s this amazing collaboration with experts and community members that have taken a flat field and turned it into an example of diversity and cooperation!

Great group of food foresters getting some trees in the ground!

As the season came to a close in 2015, so much had gotten done by pure volunteer power and community support. Our sprout had become a sapling.  In 2016, we found out how even more amazing we could become with paid staff! Check out Part 3 to bring you to our current awesomeness!