Q&A: how does a Food Forest do a Pandemic?

A young family plants a baby Kentucky coffeetree by the parking lot.

Q: Can I visit still? 
A: yes, definitely.  This is a two acre field and you ought to be able to keep VERY far away from other family groups here.  Please be respectful: whoever has highest degree of concern is to set the tone for any interactions.  Your kids can come, but be aware that they will need to stay away from other kids, which might require some tactical actions on your part.  

Q: Do you have any sanitizer on site? 
A: It’s coming.  We’re working on a schedule of decontamination of tools and toys but please ALSO bring your own sanitizer and decontaminate as you go.  Studies indicate the virus lives longest on plastic, followed by metal.  Yes, you may bring your own tools.  Of the options, we like bleach the least.  Other sanitizers are much safer for the soil critters.  
Q: Do you need help? 
A: Yes!  Definitely.  There are plenty of weeds to pull and it’s never a bad idea to turn the compost.  In general, specific requests (like the current “please help weed the strawberry patches”) are listed in our group on Facebook and on Instagram.  If you really aren’t a social media person but would like some way to be outside and helpful, by all means send an email. 

Q: Is the water on?
A: it was, but now we’re looking at a string of nights in the 20s, so it may go back off.  Bring water bottles just in case.  

Q: What about the Forager workshop series? 
A: Good news!  These are moving to an online format.  We will be doing videos that center on what a person can forage and ideas for what can be happening in your home gardens, with periodic expansions to talk about how to prepare certain items for eating (cuz raw dandelion roots are not tasty).  The goal is to create a YouTube channel with both our videos and helpful playlists of other videos.  We’ll link things on Facebook and Instagram, and then include those links in these “monthly” emails, too.  

Strawberry leaves are starting to green up amongst the brown leaf litter mulch.

We appreciate you!

Thank you to the 30 donors who contributed to the Food Forest in December – helping us to raise $6,860 for our 2020 projects. This support means a ton on our tiny $16,000 per year budget, and means you can look forward to lots more planting, fun for kids, and foraging workshops in 2020.

Want to join us? Donations are still very welcome at any amount. Monthly donors are especially awesome.





We’re thrilled to have three new board members sharing their knowledge and passion to grow the Food Forest. Welcome to Wally Graeber, Melinda Taylor, and Jill Primak. We also extend a hearty thanks to Daya Nelson and Karen Chaney who have stepped down after being a huge help on the board for the inaugural year.

Workshop Ideas

We’re planning a ton of fun workshops this season, all around the theme of foraging. Topics we’ve been throwing around include dandelions, making skin salve, horehound lozenges, fermentation and mushroom logs. Do any of these interest you? Do you have other ideas for us? Just reply and let us know!

Stop by! Yes, even in winter

This great article will give you some encouragement to stop by and explore the textures of the Food Forest in winter:  Children That Play Outside In All Weather Grow Up Resilient

See you at the Food Forest!

You’re welcome!

The new welcome sign is up!

Thanks to the Nebraska Forest Service, Lincoln Industries, and all of our supporters for our new welcome sign at the Food Forest with a map, site information, and regular updates on what’s ready to eat during the growing season. Thanks also to the Environmental Science 319 class that helped us jump start the design process.  Stop by and check it out!

Two young princess fairies work the corn grinder with curiosityAnother successful Enchanted Food Forest

We’re thankful for everyone who came out to explore the Food Forest for our annual Halloween event. Kids in all sorts of colorful costumes explored the site, shelled corn, read stories and much more. We look forward to their return visits throughout next year.

Fall Activities for Kids

Fall is a great time to gather natural materials for crafts. It doesn’t have to be permanent – just have fun arranging leaves or sticks in patterns. Make a good one? Take a photo and send it to us! It’s also fun to just explore the different textures and colors that fall brings. Ask your young person why each plant parts looks the way it does and see what ideas they have.

Holiday Markets

Sundays, December 1 & 15, 10am – 2pm, Park Centers Banquet Hall
There are two delightful Holiday Markets left before your local farmers take a well-deserved rest for the winter. Stop by and pick up a wonderful array of local produce, meats, dairy, mushrooms, sweets, and much more. 
Details here.

Enchanted Food Forest

Sunday, October 29, 2-5pm 5750 S. 40th Street (40th and Old Cheney) Suggested Donation Per Family: $10 (optional)

The Enchanted Food Forest will feature:

  • Incredibly creative trunks filled with treats
  • Ghost stories (appropriate for young ears)
  • Things to build, balance beams to walk on, music making
  • Live music from local musician Mike Semrad
  • Pollinator hotel building
  • A giant parachute game
  • Scarecrow building
  • And much more!

It’s all about the nature. Kids love exploring the activities, and some don’t even notice the candy!

We look forward to seeing you and your little ones, and all their costumes!

A few more photos from last year’s fun

Enchanted Food Forest

Sunday, October 27, 2 PM – 5 PM
at Southern Heights Food Forest (40th and Old Cheney)

Our 6th annual Enchanted Food Forest event will let you play outdoors with friends in your favorite costume. Sing. Dance. Build. Climb. Dig. Create. Pick up a few treats along the way!

With the help of Southern Heights Presbyterian, we’ll host a family friendly Halloween event with fall harvest games and activities for all ages in our outdoor Nature Explore classroom space. Come in costume, play games, create art, make music, and visit the trunk or treat if you like.

This is our annual fundraising event to keep the outdoor classroom well stocked, so there is a SUGGESTED donation of $10 per family, but you are all welcome.



Volunteer For Fun!

Don’t have little goblins and monsters to bring to the Enchanted Food Forest? We’d love your help. You’ll have a great time getting to see all the fun costumes. Sign up here. (No experience necessary.)

Board Members Needed

Interested in helping guide the future of the Food Forest? We’re looking for new board members to help us build a sustainable, and strong organization. Contact us if you are interested in learning more.

Post-Frost Gardening

Now that we’ve had our first frost, here’s a few things to do in your garden:

  • Dig sweet potatoes – the frost killed the vines, but the tubers are ready to eat
  • Plant garlic for a summer harvest – it’s an easy plant to grow, just keep it weeded next summer. More.
  • Choose a new area of your yard to turn into garden. Cover it with cardboard and pile up your leaves and compost there. You’ll have a great bed in the spring. More.

September Food Forest Tips

In the Nature Explore Classroom, the “Loose Parts” area has a variety of shells, pine cones, seed heads, and other natural materials for children to sort, touch and experience. Read more on the benefits of playing with loose parts here.

All ages will enjoy snacking on the ripe raspberries (southwestish by the compost bins) while they visit this month.

Every month, watch these emails for tips on what you can do at the Food Forest anytime you visit.

Food Forest Tour

Sat, Sept 21, 11am-12pm

Come see what is happening at the Food Forest this fall. Learn about how kids can interact with the Nature Explore Classroom, and what plants are ready for harvest. Free & open to everyone curious to explore. RSVP here. (helpful but not required)

Volunteer Opportunities

Sat, 9/21 9am-12pm
Sun, 10/6 12-2pm

Come out and get your hands dirty while you snack on raspberries. Plenty of projects for all ages and skill levels. The more, the merrier! More details.

Streets Alive!

Sun, Sept 22, 1-4pm

It’s your favorite annual street party! Dozens of booths and activities join music and food in the South Salt Creek neighborhood this year. Stop by the Food Forest booth and say hello (or reply to this message if you can volunteer at the booth.) Details here.

Enchanted Food Forest

Sun, October 27, 2-5pm
Mark your calendar for the best Halloween event of the season! Kids often spend hours exploring all the fun activities after they’ve gotten their candy, so be sure their costume allows full movement!

Join us in the Food Forest!

Want to help out at the Food Forest, but aren’t sure how to get started? We have plenty of upcoming volunteer days with tasks for all skill levels. You’ll meet a great group of people, learn some ways to grow food, and of course feel like you got something done!

Join us on Saturday, Aug 10, 8am-11am, and Sunday, Aug 25, 6-8pm.

More info

In the Kitchen with Elderberries!

Coming soon!   

Learn how to make a simple syrup from elderberries and versions of the spiced syrup for fighting colds all winter.  As the berries start to ripen, we’ll give you a two week notice for the workshop, so stay tuned.

Blackberries, anyone?

Bring the kids out for a memorable time at the Southern Heights Food Forest before school starts! We’re always open, and the sheds have plenty of educational toys.

Map to the Food Forest


Ever wondered how hazelnuts grow? They’re the easiest and fastest nut to grow, and you can plant your own in Nebraska. We’ll have our first crop soon. Stop by and check it out!
More on growing hazelnuts.

Thank you to everyone who supported the Southern Heights Food Forest on Give to Lincoln Day! We’re growing in every way, thanks to you.

Experience the Food Forest

Join us this Saturday for a special day in the Food Forest. There’s something for everyone, so bring your family and friends.

Saturday, June 8, 8am – 2pm

We’re on the Lincoln Garden Club tour this Saturday, and at the same time partnering with Community Crops for their annual Garden Gala. We’ve put together a fantastic day of events for you!

Plein Air Yoga


There’s just something magical about yoga outside. Join us for an early morning session with our talented instructor, Daya Nelson.  Bring a mat or towel and a friend!

Exploring the Outdoor Classroom


Kids of all ages will enjoy the time outside in the Food Forest. Come play, climb, paint, build, and make music, and then come back anytime this summer on your own for more adventures!

Plus, the Lux Art Center will be painting pots with kids 11-1.

What’s Coming Up in the Food Forest?

Plenty is blooming and fruiting already this year. There’s a beautiful wildflower meadow to enjoy. Come explore anytime from 9 to 2. Our Ambassadors will be on hand to answer your questions so you can get help with a garden issue, or taste a new plant. We’ll have plenty of surprises!

Food, Music and Theater

If yoga, gardening and outdoor play aren’t enough, here are more activities on Saturday:
11:30am Garden workshop
12:00pm Mark Sheffler Jazz Trio
 1:00pm My Antonia reading
 1:30pm Garden workshop

Bring a picnic or purchase food from Tacos Azteca anytime during the day.

See you Saturday!
Learn more here.

Give to Lincoln Day

Watch to find out how Lauren’s kids know the Food Forest is special!

Thursday, May 30

Please donate to the Southern Heights Food Forest on Give to Lincoln Day. Donations will increase the number of people able to visit and experience the joys of the Food Forest.

All donations will be doubled, plus get an extra bonus from Give to Lincoln Day funds. It’s a great time to give!



Community Play and Picnic Day

Thursday, May 30, 10am-12pm

Come celebrate Give to Lincoln Day at the Food Forest and meet other families like Lauren’s who enjoy the space. We’ll have plenty of different activities to engage all your senses in creative nature play. Bring a picnic or snacks if you’d like.

As an extra bonus, we’ll be planting sweet potatoes. Come see how these beautiful plants grow.

RSVP here

A Day of Connection

Saturday, June 8, 9am-2pm

Each day in the Food Forest is different. New plants flower, others ripen fruit. Different insects and birds visit. Come explore with guides to help you see more than you ever realized was there. You are welcome anytime from 9 to 2 for a tour, and also to join us for these timed events:

8-9am Enjoy a beautiful morning yoga session in the Food Forest
11:30am Compost demonstration
12pm-1pm Mark Scheffler’s Jazz Trio – bring a picnic and enjoy the music
1pm Staged reading of My Antonia:  Willa Cather Archives and TADA Theater
1:30pm Free seedling giveaways for children