Highlights of 2018

Last, but far from least, we planted two bur oak trees this year, one of whom was planted during our memorial celebration of Amy Brt’s life, a community expression of gratitude for the impact one passionate young woman was able to have here- a vibrant life unfolding with in a fertile and supportive community. Her vision for community endures and continues to grow. It’ll be a long time before these oaks are mature, but that’s the nature of this whole project, isn’t it? Build for the future, find present joy in the vision of future children playing gratefully in the shade (and nourished by the food!) that we believed in way back now. Join us to grow the Food Forest by making your donation now! We had a banner year! Outside groups ran events, took tours, and volunteered countless hours. Resource donations soared this year too, enabling us to meet a variety of the goals set last winter for 2018, and off site presentations increased, too, ranging from Americorps volunteers and Community Learning Center leaders to farmers who grow nut trees.
Ash Gordon from Nebraska Mushroom talks about the value of spent mushroom substrate blocks to garden soils.
Visitors to the site have included attendees to the workshops, tour groups like the Nebraska Herbal Society, and the onsite Bright Lights summer camp, which came, stayed for a week, and left us with glorious new guild name posts. We’ve also seen increasing repeat visitation from private families and members of the local home school community who are recognizing the excellence of the learning opportunities available here. The KZUM’s How’s It Growing Program presented The Hills Are Alive! featuring the Nebraska Hugelkultur Institute, the Biochar Initiative, and Nebraska Mushroom, all onsite with amazing knowledge and powerful insights. The hugelkultur mound built that day forms the lowest intervention in our watershed thus far, and is paired with the berm around the stage at the upper end of the east watershed. We’ve had 3 two inch rains this fall, all of it was caught and infiltrated into our groundwater reserves. The Nebraska Nut Growers Association donated time and improved variety scion wood to demonstrate a range of field grafting techniques, including bark cleft, bud, and the delightfully named “banana graft” techniques. 100% success on the pecans, including the one topped with a hickory tree, 50% on the king nut hickories, and 25% on the walnut. Keep an ear out- we’re likely to regraft a few of the ones that didn’t take this year, but slightly earlier in the season this time. We had a bumper peach harvest this year, more cherries than ever before, and our first wild plums arrived. Alas, we lost two cherry trees to fungus, and may be losing a peach to peach tree borer, but all affected trees have been identified and organic control methods will be in use throughout 2019. Each year, our fall festival, the Enchanted Food Forest, gains depth as the Nature Explore Classroom (“NEC”) space gently matures into the vibrant and creative space envisioned way back when we started. This will continue in the next year, too, because we have been gifted the wood for (and will build soon) the small building area’s decking. We expanded and reorganized the NEC in 2018, including solving the weed issue in messy materials. Much of what we were able to accomplish throughout the site was thanks to more volunteer groups from more organizations than ever before:
  • Union College, Leadership Lincoln, Nebraska Wesleyan, and UNL all made substantial progress on a variety of projects.
  • 3 students from the School of Natural Resources course, Environmental Engagement in the Community, worked with us through the spring to develop signage priorities and mock ups. We expect installing signage to be a focus in 2019.
  • Menards, Community Crops, Home Depot, and Nebraska Mushroom were all incredibly helpful with supplies and time,
  • and as usual, the Statewide Arboretum and Nebraska Forest Service’s Community Forestry Programs remain stalwart allies.
  • Throughout it all, week in and week out, we continue to receive hope and help from our uphill neighbors and friends at the Southern Heights Presbyterian Church.
Our volunteers helped us build fencing along the top of the Crops plots and add signage clarifying the distinction of that space, built a compost sifter, and added intraguild pathways starting with the Pecan, Pawpaw, Chestnut, Children’s, and Walnut guilds. They also helped us add a stunning number of new plants: Thanks to Little Beaver nursery outside of Beatrice and a series of private donations, we added 500+ wildflower plants including pitcher sage, love grass, rigid goldenrod, rosinweed, bergamot, wild licorice, purple prairie clover, yarrow, prairie dropseed, daylilies, and false indigo. We also added quite a few sweet shrubs, a goji berry, our first blueberry, nearly a dozen grapes (thank you, Campbell’s Nursery), willow for a living tunnel (thank you, Lincoln Children’s Zoo), and will add Cornus mas in the next few weeks as a live staking experiment. We added rhubarb and wild ginger, hostas, cannas, and were gifted a locally grown variety of sweet potato dating to the 1930s that we can plant next spring. Last, but far from least, we planted two bur oak trees this year, one of whom was planted during our memorial celebration of Amy Brt’s life, a community expression of gratitude for the impact one passionate young woman was able to have here- a vibrant life unfolding with in a fertile and supportive community. Her vision for community endures and continues to grow. It’ll be a long time before these oaks are mature, but that’s the nature of this whole project, isn’t it? Build for the future, find present joy in the vision of future children playing gratefully in the shade (and nourished by the food!) that we believed in way back now. Join us to grow the Food Forest by making your donation now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.