FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is permaculture? Permaculture is a landscape design methodology that blends ornamental, edible, and native plants together to create a self-sustaining ecosystem. Like ecosystems found in nature, all permaculture designs include plants that work together for mutual benefit using only the inputs the environment provides.  Like all design systems, some sites are more “designery” and others less so.  Permaculture design processes and ethics are an excellent step forward for bringing human dominated landscapes back toward natural levels of functional abundance. 

What is a food forest? A food forest is a permaculture design which models itself after a forest ecosystem. Structurally, edible trees, shrubs and herbs are planted together to create a canopy, understory, shrub and herbaceous layers, and ground cover. Functionally, some plants are included may not be edible but are a part of the design to nurture the recreated forest for self-sustainability. Some food forests augment an already existing forest, more are planted on open land like ours at Southern Heights.

What is “Snack Not Pack”? This phrase is used to remind visitors that the bounty found at the food forest is intended to be shared; other visitors are coming after you.  For example, it is 100% appropriate to eat many raspberries while visiting the food forest, but it would be rude to take home so many raspberries that you were able to make jars of raspberry jam from them.  A second example is that it is definitely a good thing to take a handful with you to share with a friend who you will see later in the day, but it would be inappropriate to collect anything from this site with the idea of selling it to somebody else later (even if you change it somehow before selling it).  This site is a gift and needs to remain a gift. 

What is a Nature Explore Classroom? Certified Nature Explore Classrooms are dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces. Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom Design Services apply research-based, field-tested design principles to create these nature-rich outdoor spaces that can be located anywhere a school, child care center, park, or other community site might have a traditional playground.

What is a community garden? A community garden is an area dedicated to producing food for a household who may not have the space to garden where they live. These plots are rented out each year by participating gardeners.  It is not appropriate to pick food from these plots without the express permission of that individual plot’s gardener(s).  

What is a pollinator garden? A landscape designed for the benefit of pollinator species. Much of the plant material is native flowers whose nectar feeds insects, but other plants within the garden also create “housing” niches for our beneficial insects. While these plants are also included through out the site, we’ve congregated the sun loving plants here both to save them from future forest shade.  We encourage you to observe what plants here might join your home garden: the food and habitat sources are crucial for wildlife which is in decline due to agricultural expansion, urban sprawl, and pesticides.

What is hugelcultur? Why is there a big long mound near the southwest corner of the site? Hugelkultur is a German word translating to “hill culture”, or hill gardening.  This technique uses large buried logs to simultaneously create high carbon soils with vibrant fungal and microbial communities, retain water, and extend the growing season.  Slowly, the large logs rot underground, often taking several decades to complete the process.  The Hugelkultur Institute built ours using a tractor to dig a long trench and then filling the trench with enormous loads of wood before returning our heavy clay soil back on top.  This is an excellent use for your old rotting firewood (toss it in the bottom of any raised garden beds at home), but more research is needed before moving our particular work sequence (dig deep, bury wood, cover with the original soil, sow cover crops) to a Sandhills garden.  This is due to the erosion potential of the sand due to sudden rains and the wind that is so ever present.