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Benson Food Forest growing, with goal of creating similar plot for the public

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:29 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Tucked away on less than an acre of land in a quiet Benson neighborhood, nature is at work. Still in its infancy, the Benson Food Forest is sprouting.

“These are ancient grains, these are corn, squash, and beans, they’ll grow together. They’re a supportive planting structure,” Meghan McLarney, a partner with Benson Food Forest, said as she pointed to a row of crops.

The property itself has been used as an urban farm for a century, only recently the property owners decided they wanted to make a larger impact on their community.

“The one we have here is just a baby food forest, but it’s a seven-layer ecosystem,” said Miriam Zambrano, another Benson Food Forest partner.

With the help of the property owner and their own master gardener, they’re growing things like corn, nuts, peppers, even several different kinds of trees.

“And every plant that’s in a food forest has a part that’s edible,” Zambrano said.

The chickens who call the property home seem to already be enjoying the fruits of their labor, hopping around and eating the low-hanging food.

The goal is to create a sustainable food source while also educating people about growing their own.

“It’s about really letting the Earth showcase what it can do. You know, we’re just kind of more like shepherds of the space. We’re just giving it the space that it needs to breathe and do exactly what it’s meant to do,” Zambrano said.

While the pair is getting a lot of help from the property owners and other similar organizations, they invite people to come and get their own hands dirty.

“It’s a huge step and it’s the most important step in finding out how our community is going to be a part of this community food forest that we’re working towards,” McLarney said.

The plot of land is already alive with growth, but over the next five to seven years, all of the partners creating the Benson Food Forest hope to transform it completely.

“This is really what we’re hoping to grow into and it can change and develop as we grow and we learn,” Zambrano said while looking over a digital rendition of the forest’s future.

The Benson Food Forest is a private food forest, Zambrano and McLarney are looking for another space to grow a public food forest.

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