Edible Forests: A Healthy Alternative to MN Food Deserts
Friday, August 28, 2020
LUVERNE, Minn. - A nonprofit group is working to create "edible forests" to provide lower-income communities, including in southwestern Minnesota, 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 - executive director of 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 in Luverne, Minnesota, classified as a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The community food forest there saw its first plantings in 2018.
Rockman said there's a lot of need on the South Dakota side as well, and her group's reach includes northwestern Iowa, too. She said she also gets requests from other parts of the country, 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.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for people with disabilities in New York are pushing for the federal budget resolution to include $400 billion in Medicaid …
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Freshwater mussels are key to keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed clean, and with more than half of all species now facing …
BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious …
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Massive wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada have triggered poor air quality in North Carolina over the past few weeks, and …
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Farmworkers are in Olympia today, calling for stronger protections from extreme heat. The farmworkers union Familias Unidas por la …
BOISE, Idaho -- Rallies are taking place across the Northwest to support salmon, which face dire conditions in the Columbia River Basin. Saturday…
IXONIA, Wis. -- The public comment period has ended, but opponents of proposed natural gas storage facilities in southeastern Wisconsin still hope to …
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvanians are growing worried about the environmental consequences of natural-gas drilling in the state, according to a new …