From Sprout to Sapling: Look how much we’ve grown!

The story of the Southern Heights Food Forest is much like the story of its trees. Once small saplings, soon towering beacons of life.

It began in 2012 with a seed. That seed was the late Amy Brt. At the time, she was the garden manager for Community CROPS, a community garden and urban agriculture nonprofit based here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Amy knew it would take many skill sets to build this forest, so she formed a coalition of experts to design the many aspects of what the food forest is and what it will be.  Because of this strong coalition of Congregation Members, Agroforesters, Community Gardeners, Outdoor Educators and Permaculturalists, the design of the forest continued to grow as Amy battled cancer. Amy passed away in May of 2013 and her gifts are still being received.

Amy Rose Brt

Obviously, the bedrock and soil of our growing endeavor was Southern Heights Presbyterian Church who already had a Community Crops plot on the 2 acre lot south of their church. Through communications with Amy and others, the Church graciously agreed to provide the space to care for the land we all love and cherish. Without the generosity and support of Southern Heights Presbyterian, the food forest would have only been an idea. The dream began to become a reality.

Panoramics of site with only Community Crops plots

Most seeds need nutrients to stimulate the growth of strong roots, stems, branches and leaves. Jeff Lindstrom organized our first meetings and further developed our plans of implementation and fundraising. Jeff organized our first Steering committee meeting in March of 2013 and kept the group of about 20 volunteers focused and inspired. Through his leadership, we bloomed in the Lincoln Community. With benefit concerts, grants, a promotional video, student involvement and a solid framework for our steering committee to function, Jeff gave us a direction to grow to new heights when he moved in April of 2014. At the time we had $20,000 in our account thanks to our supporters and his actions.

One of our first steering committee meetings in 2013

Jeff Lindstrom discussing implementation plans at the site in 2013

Although we miss Jeff very much, by the time he left, we were a strong sprout ready to extend our reach into the community and get some things done! Our steering committee did an amazing job of organizing Food Revolution Day at Southern Heights Presbyterian Church. This friend-raiser gave tours of where thing would be on the space and what we had to look forward to.

Food Forest Community Members at our Food Revolution Day Event May of 2014

And we kept growing! We drafted a legal partnership agreement and the congregation at the Church reaffirmed their commitment to the project. We coalesced as a team and set our sites on implementing our vision. Read Part 2 for our story of how we brought the dream to reality!