(Sheridan, Wyo) — On Tuesday evening, over a dozen locals pushed tables together at Luminous Brewhouse and sat down to discuss the Food Forest Project. This group of Sheridan residents eventually wants to fill in many of the empty municipal spaces around town with “food forests.”
Carol LeResche, a member of the Food Forest Committee, first found inspiration from the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, Washington. Instead of landscaping the public park with traditional ornamental species, the city chose food-producing plants. In addition to providing free food for people, a food forest is designed to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects.
“I thought, that’s perfect. Why don’t we do this in Sheridan?” LeResche explained. “Sheridan residents used to provide a great deal of the produce eaten in the community.”
The first area to be planted will be at Thorne Rider Park where a BMX course was located until recently. The “Pilot Food Forest” has just been approved by the city engineer, Lane Thompson, who describes it as an “exciting project.” The city has also agreed to provide the necessary water. The group is now focusing on grant-writing, preparing mulch, and soil-testing.
The group has a meeting planned with the city on May 12th at the site to discuss compliance with Corps of Engineer requirements. After that meeting, they are allowed on the land. The first planting should happen by the end of May.
There are plans for a pavilion, a walkway, and an informational kiosk as well. Supporters of the Food Forest Project hope that the pilot forest will lead to many others.
“It’s a demonstration that these things are possible,” LeResche said. “We can fill public space with food.”
graphic h/t Val Burgess