The Time Machine at Southern Heights

by Adam Hintz, President of Friends of Wilderness Park

In the not too distant future, Lincoln will be the home of an advanced technology that only exists in a few places around the world. Instead of a large, sterile, polluting space complete with massive production facilities, this place will be regenerative, vibrant and welcoming. This facility is the Southern Heights Food Forest and the technology it will develop is time travel.

I can sense your grin as I write this.

“Sure,” you think to yourself. “Nice try Adam. The only time machines I know of are in stories by H.G. Wells or with Michael J. Fox.”

But hear me out: The Southern Heights Food Forest will give you glimpses of our indigenous past, our transitioning present, and our sustainable future.

Let’s begin with the past. Although the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, Washington is known by many as the first food forest in the nation, the first true food forests were the organically-occurring forests themselves. Historically, our species and our decedents have browsed the woodlands since the beginning and this tradition continues today in uncolonized cultures, and with cavalier foodies looking to introduce new colors to the pallet of their diet. At Southern Heights, our community can re-sync with this sacred human tradition as we browse to see if its gooseberries for lunch or if the acorns are ready to gather and process.

Next, the Southern Heights Food Forest time machine will bring us to our present society in transition. For all of the devices we’ve created, we feel less and less connected to the human community and non-human world. The promises given by a single-serve disposable lifestyle are ringing hollow. We’re yearning for something authentic and undeniably ours. The Southern Heights Food Forest will be a place for us to unplug from our devices and reconnect to the real world. A ride on the bike, trip on the bus or stroll down the street will give us access to a place surrounded by those who are creating an inclusive diverse community. The forest will be the place we will build our skills to create the future our children deserve.

And now we travel into the future. Our neighborhoods look familiar yet strikingly different. Garages have turned into greenhouses. There are more bikes than cars parked near houses. Folks are sitting with loved ones on porches. Chemically-treated lawns have been replaced by native plants. The rain doesn’t just wash down into the gutter; it is harvested and reused. It feels safer here because we take care of each other and the land that takes care of us. Somehow, we have remembered what it means to be a living community. That process of remembering began at the Southern Heights Food Forest.

For me, the food forest is more than just a garden. It’s a place to honor our past, understand the present and work for my children’s existence. Most of what must happen to transition us successfully into the next century will be modeled at Southern Heights. Right now, it may seem like a modest plot of land. I promise, if we work together, it will be historic.