Chris Kuehn, a certified arborist and the manager of trees and lakes for the Fox Valley Park District in Aurora, Illinois is working to create an urban food forest. Lincoln Park was selected for the project as it is centrally located, popular with residents, and is adjacent to the Park District greenhouse with easy access to water for irrigation. Walking trails and a dog park will also be included.
The food forest has received a great deal of support from the community, Park District officials, and local nurseries – who have donated fruit bushes.
“We had about 20 volunteers come out in April and a total of 14 trees were planted including pear, cherry, apple, and peach trees as well as a couple of pecan trees,” Jeff Long, public affairs and communications manager for the Fox Valley Park District, said. “We’re also going to have low lying plants including strawberries, blueberries and rhubarb, so there will be a range of heights.”
The project is now underway at very little cost to the parks administration due to volunteer efforts and donations.
“The total cost so far has been maybe $1,000,” Kuehn said. “The volunteers we had were fantastic and I’ve been doing some things after hours. I told them they need to come up with a name for themselves and maybe the park, but at this point I guess they’re just Tim’s Forest Group.”
The Fox Valley Park District also offers over 500 community garden plots to residents through the Park District’s Garden Plot Program. Plots are 20 feet by 30 feet each and are $15 per plot for residents ($30 for non-residents), with no limit on the number that can be reserved.