SD Group Plants "Edible Forests" to Address Food Deserts
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A South Dakota nonprofit group is working to create "edible forests" to provide lower-income communities greater access to healthy foods.
Project Food Forest, based in Sioux Falls, wants to help eliminate "food deserts," areas where there's no grocery store nearby that sells affordable, nutritious products.
While community gardens help fight hunger, Kim Rockman with Project Food Forest said they can be hard to maintain in a neighborhood with limited resources. She said food forests require some volunteer work after they've been established, but don't need as much attention because they're made up mostly of self-sustaining perennials.
"There's no one-size-fits-all model for a food forest," she said. "We have done vegetables, we have a few vegetables in the ground now, but definitely, the focus is the perennial plants."
The perennials include fruit trees, berries, herbs, mushrooms -- all types of edibles, grown in conditions that mimic nature and offer variety for those who might otherwise lack access.
For now, Rockman said, the group's primary work is across the border in Luverne, Minn., classified as a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, she noted that there's a lot of need on the South Dakota side as well.
A 2018 study by the Augustana Research Institute identified a handful of food deserts within Sioux Falls, citing poverty as an underlying cause. But healthy food access also is an issue in rural South Dakota, with long distances between grocery stores and few public transportation options.
Rockman said her group gets requests from other parts of the country, too, where communities need guidance.
"A big chunk of what we're doing, in addition to the hands-on, hyper-local work," she said, "is how can we bridge gaps?"
Supporters of this movement say they're not trying to replace the work of community gardens or food pantries -- and that all these resources complement each other. They also point out that food forests have environmental benefits, by creating tree canopies in urban areas lacking in nature.
The 2018 report is online at augie.edu.
get more stories like this via email
One of North Carolina's oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities is finding new ways to help students stay enrolled and graduate. Recent …
A new survey finds 8 in 10 Kentucky parents say afterschool programs could help their child combat social and mental-health struggles by reducing unpr…
A technology that once existed only in science fiction soon could emerge as a viable solution to climate change. The city of Flagstaff has added …
A new report found Texas likely undercounted the number of people who actually live in the state when gathering information for the 2020 census…
Minnesota has more than 10,000 brownfield sites, which are abandoned or idled properties in need of contamination removal. State officials will soon …
By age 35, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher are about twice as likely as workers with just a high school diploma to have a good job - one …
The mayor of Huntington, where more than 200 homes were recently damaged by severe flooding, said now is the state's "one chance" to prevent other …
Alzheimer's disease is one of the leading causes of death in North Dakota, prompting state officials to launch an online dashboard, where the public …