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The Klamath Food Forest

klamath food forestOne of the 2019 Gro More Good Grassroots Grant Winners, The Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, is partnering with the Community Food Council for Del Norte and Tribal Lands (DNATL) to help create new and sustainable sources of food for members of their community. Located in the far northwest corner of California, they serve rural areas that are isolated and do not have grocery stores readily available. One of the projects their Grassroots Grant money assisted with was the Au-Minot 'we-nue-nep-ueh (Klamath Food Forest) at Margaret Keating Elementary School.

The Klamath Food Forest is one of four food forest sites developed in the region. This particular program is located on an elementary school campus, nestled inside the Yurok reservation. In addition to the food forest, it also includes a school/community garden and an outdoor classroom. An immediate goal for this food forest is to serve the Klamath community in a culturally appropriate way, bringing indigenous plant food sources and traditional basket material plants back to a more central location. Locating the food forest strategically at a school was designed to help them obtain an even larger mission. As Executive Director of the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods Amira Long explains, “This food forest is meant to involve and inspire the Klamath youth to learn about and participate in their local food system, revive a culturally traditional approach to sustainable food, and hopefully create some much needed future food producers for their community.”

Careful planning was done to make sure that once established, the food forest would be essentially self-sustaining. Using a permaculture approach including extensive mulching and hugelkultur beds, the plants chosen for the site were interrelated, most being naturally occurring companions in this particular section of the Pacific Northwest, and will require little attention or management. First, larger trees were installed including approximately 50 fruit trees. Additional vertical layers were then added by planting understory species including shrubs and herbaceous plants. The plant selection was based on the traditional foods and gathering materials of the Klamath community. These include, but are not limited to: evergreen huckleberry, pacific blackberry, California hazelnut, salmonberry, bull pine, redwood sorrel, and tan oak.

The vision for this amazing space is a food source today and inspiration and education to create the foundation for a sustainable community food system in the future.  A wonderful example of using youth focused green spaces and gardens to meet local needs, we were honored to be able to support their work through the Gro More Good Grassroots Grant program.