Growing a Food Forest in Heberlig Palmer Tot-Lot

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Heberlig Palmer Tot Lot Food Forest & Park Upgrade Meeting

When: Tuesday May 28th 2013 6:30pm

Where: Heberlig Palmer Tot Lot (between Pitt St, Lincoln St., West St, & A St)

Who: Everyone, Anyone!

So, we’ve got this crazy idea.  Hear us out.  We have watched as other neighborhood groups recently have brought their community together to rehab an under-used and neglected park.  The East Side Neighbors did it in Carlisle by adopting Biddle Mission park and installing playground equipment, a walking trail and planting trees.  The South of South Neighbors (SoSo) are in the process of planning upgrades to the Butcher Tot Lot in their community.  There was a community of people who came together 20 years ago to build Letort Park as well.

Picture 5Heberlig Palmer Tot Lot is a hidden gem in our neighborhood that is ripe with possibilities (between N.Pitt, N. West, Lincoln, A St).  Many people don’t even know it exists because it is so well hidden from the street.  It already has some great facilities like a pavilion and playground equipment but it can also be seen as a blank canvas with so many opportunities for improvement.  This project can be more than just revamping a children’s playground if we think about possibilities outside of what has normally been done when renovating park.  Often the parks are looked at as mainly a place for kids to play and that should of course be one area to focus on, but it should also be a place for the entire community so ideas should include recreational ideas for all ages.  Another aspect that should be taken into account is what can this park offer that the community needs, not just wants.  So what does our community need?

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 3.25.16 PMWhen you look at the location of Heberlig Palmer you see that it is placed in the middle of a diverse community.  We recently attended a presentation by Taylor Wilmot about  the community views of the redevelopment of the Tire and Wheel Plant and she had an interesting slide with statistics about the makeup of our NW community.  It noted that we have the highest number of housing units (half rentals) with many being elderly and low income housing.  Our community also has a high number of community organizations, most of which offer services to residents living on subsidized incomes.  One recurring need that these organizations help to address is food insecurity.  Project Share’s Farm Stand sits on the South East corner of Heberlig Palmer Tot Lot and Shiloh Baptist Church sits on the South West corner.  Both provide free meals or groceries to Carlisle residents in need.  Also in our community is Carlisle Cares, Sadler Health Center and Safe Harbor is just on the other side of High Street.

This is an example of Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest plan. The Tot Lot could have something smaller, yet similar where the large lawn is creatively landscaped with fruiting trees, shrubs and plants.

So what are we trying to get at with all of this?  We should plant a FOOD FOREST in Heberlig Palmer Tot Lot.  What?!  You may have never heard of such a thing but a much larger city (Seattle) is currently embarking on a much larger project called the Beacon Food Forest and their project inspired us to look at opportunities here in Carlisle.  The Tot Lot is 2 acres made up mostly of one large, green lawn.  The vision, so far, is essentially a Thornwald park made up of plants, bushes and trees that provide food instead of just ornamental decoration.  It would still have a large green space in the middle for people to use for play but it could be surrounded by fruit and nut trees and shrubs that produce berries.  Unlike a vegetable garden, this would be something that could grow each season without much maintenance but would still provide free food for the community year after year.  Additional upgrades to the park will also be included so we will be asking residents what else they want to see.  From the limited discussions we have already had with people we have heard requests to refresh the baseball diamond, upgrade grills, add chess tables, add more seating and install a water fountain.

The other great thing about this project is that it sits in the Elm Street area of Carlisle which allocates grand funds to projects that help revitalize the community.  This program has helped residents repair the facade of their homes through grants and it also installed the street lights on N. Pitt and W. North streets.  The program looks like it still has some funds available that could help get this project started but we don’t want to drag our feet on this one.

We are looking for people who want to help this project get started.  Who should get involved?  Anyone. Everyone.  If you are a person in Carlisle who is interested in making Carlisle more sustainable and resilient and want to help grow a food forest, we want your help.  If you are in the neighborhood and want to give ideas about how the park should be renovated, we would want your help.  If you part of a congregation, youth group, community organization or anyone else that wants to help work on a project, we want your help.  If you are feeling philanthropic and want to donate to get this project going, we want your help.  Everyone is welcome.

We are trying to schedule a planning meeting some time in the next 2 weeks but we would like like to know who is interested in this project so we can set a date when the most people can attend. Please contact carlislewestside@gmail.com to let us know you are interested and we will be in touch VERY soon.  Thanks all!

If you are interested in reading more about the Seattle Food Forest, here are a few more links:

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