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Food Forest planned for Seymour Park

By Josh Staloch

GREEN BAY – Seymour Park could soon be getting a lot greener.

A presentation was held at the park shelter Oct. 29 in which representatives from UW-Extension, New Leaf Foods, NEW Food Forum and the Seymour Neighborhood Association got together to discuss the Seymour Park Urban Food Forest Project.

“We want to develop a very comprehensive plan on how we could implement a food forest in Seymour Park,” Kaurie Mihm, Park Planner for the City of Green Bay’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, said. “That plan would then be approved by the parks committee, city council, and then, once we get those approvals, then we can move on to funding and implementation.”

There’s a lot of planning to do, especially in the area of stormwater management.

Park planner Kaurie Mihm goes over stormwater management options for Seymour Park in Downtown Green Bay as plans to develop a food forest at the park begin to take shape. Josh Staloch Photos

Once that is in place, a formal comprehensive plan will be submitted and funding can begin to go to the project.

Thursday’s meeting got the ball rolling on forming the group of people who will shape the official plan that will someday, hopefully within the next two to three years, according to Mihm, result in Seymour Park setting an example other green spaces in the community might follow.

“Ideally, I’d like to see the whole space planted. Any public green space, I’d love to see growing food,” Josh Kufahl, member of the Seymour Park Neighborhood Association and the point person for the food forest project, said. “There’s a lot that needs to be done. We need to have a lot more of these conversations and the city also needs to buy into the idea.”

A forest of food
According to materials provided by organizers of the initiative, a food forest is meticulously planned and planted in layers to produce a wide variety of edible plants.

The uppermost layer of the forest, or the canopy layer, is typically made up of large fruit and nut trees.
Under the canopy is a layer of lower-growing fruit trees like pear and apple, and nestled between those will be a layer of shrubs full of currants and berries.

Next is what is known as the herbaceous layer, which will contain culinary and medicinal herbs and possibly asparagus as well as artichokes.

Any remaining space will be taken up by groundcover plants like strawberries, which will form a living mulch to protect the soil, prevent weeds from becoming a problem and reduce water loss to evaporation.

Outdoor classrooms
Using nature as a learning space is something the initiative would like to explore.

The planning process for such a space will take a look at using natural materials for things like seats and benches as well as adding a stage for plays and musical performances, an art installation, a screen for viewing films outdoors and interactive visual aids for identifying plants and wildlife.

The outdoor classrooms would be available to the community for use by schools, churches, clubs and businesses.

Other features being considered for the park include meditation spaces near small ponds, a mindfulness labyrinth, homework spaces, a garden meant to be walked in barefoot and also a medicine garden.

The plan could also include beekeeping facilities, birdhouses and bat houses.

A new playground is also, of course, being considered for the space, but it won’t look like a traditional playground structure with slides and swings and other things made out of plastic and metal.

Rather, organizers want the food forest playground to feature natural elements designed to play on like tree logs, boulders and vines.

The plan also calls for integrating the food forest at Seymour Park into the rest of the downtown community by using bike trails to connect it to the Shipyard District and the Broadway District.

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