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Building a Food Forest in Woodstock

Published on
02 April 2024

The Apple Creek Food Forest is the newest venture of TLC’s farm program. The site consists of a five-acre parcel nestled into a larger conservation space located just off of Dean Street, outside of the Apple Creek subdivision in Woodstock.

The main goals of the food forest are to:

  1. Promote sustainable agriculture through diversity and balance
  2. Build a demonstration space where community members can interact with each other and the land

This project has been a bit of a mystery for many, so here are some updates!

There is no blueprint for building a food forest, so we’re learning and adapting as we go. In the beginning, a couple of hurdles slowed the planning process. Zoning was the first challenge. The parcel is zoned residential and located within Woodstock city limits, which means there are different city requirements and aesthetic goals, unlike a parcel zoned for agriculture.

Also, we’re working alongside the beaver who have built a sprawling metropolis on Apple Creek, adding a layer of complexity to the drainage tile that runs through the property.

Much of last year was dedicated to building and expanding relationships and laying the groundwork for future success. We are excited about multiple projects and events planned for 2024!

First, we secured grant funding to allow us to plant a Milpa garden this spring. Milpa is an Indigenous method of farming which promotes synergy and cooperation across a wide variety of plant species, all growing side by side. This robust gardening style will help build soil health, fertility and improve soil structure, transitioning away from the traditional corn/soybean rotation that has been in place.

In May, the community will be invited to help broadcast seeds for our Milpa garden – more details to come! Volunteers will be needed to assist with maintaining and harvesting the garden, so please reach out if you are interested in helping!

A sketch of a Grandmother’s Garden that is planned for the food forest.

A second grant will help with a trio of projects. First is the installation of a yard hydrant which will provide potable water on site at the food forest; this will dramatically improve the ability to care for infant plants, trees and shrubs. Second, we will construct raised beds in a fenced enclosure. This will be a space for our “Grandmother’s Garden”, which will include different types of gardens with input from members and groups in the community. We envision it as a patchwork quilt of plants that combine family traditions from across our community. This garden will also be home to a number of brambles, grapes and other herbaceous plants. The last piece of the grant will fund the creation of a path and walkway from the Food Forest to the back (east side) of the property to allow easier access from Creekside Middle School.

Currently we are working on plant selection with the Savannah Institute, who are champions of agroforestry. With their guidance we are determining which species and varieties will succeed and provide a balance of productivity with the greatest ecological impact. Much of the decision making will happen soon so that we can source the trees and shrubs for planting in the fall, when the weather will be more favorable for the plants’ success. This will also give us time to get hardscaping in place, which includes parking and raised beds.

There are lots of fun and exciting things happening at the Food Forest as spring approaches!  If you have any questions, suggestions, or want to get involved, please contact Gretchen at [email protected]. We look forward to growing with you!