The YMCA, Learn, Grow, Thrive

Top 5 Questions

Community Food Forest


Top Five (5) Food Forest Questions:
By now, most of you have seen plants growing on the east side of the Dahl (La Crosse) Y next to West Ave.and Main St. However, you may not know why.  Here is some information that may be helpful:

Question 1:  What is that area of plants next to the Dahl Family YMCA?

Answer 1: The area of plants on the corner of West and Main is called a food forest.  A food forest is a sustainable gardening technique that mimics our native forest ecosystem.

Question 2:  What is the difference between a food forest and a community or household garden?

Answer 2: The difference is that a food forest is a perennial food system that resembles the woods.  It includes multiple layers of interconnected floral, faunal, fungal and microbial communities from the soil on up to the canopy.  Not all plants in a food forest are edible, but they all serve different functions within the food system. This high density of native plants support beneficial pollinators, builds soil fertility, and helps alleviate pest and disease issues.

Question 3: Can anyone harvest the food?

Answer 3:  Yes, the food forest is for YOU and intended to increase access to healthy food.  Please harvest yourself, but know that the plant is edible and ready to consume.  Please harvest for you own personal use. In the picture above, Carl is helping himself to some sweet corn for lunch.  

Question 4:  How do I create a food forest?

Answer 4: Please tour the Community Food Forest at the Y for ideas.  Occasionally there are workshops on how to mimic pieces of the food forest for your own yard.  If interested, please let us know.

Question 5:  What if I have additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact Jill M. Miller, Coordinator for Pioneering Healthier Communities at