Mulberry photo/Backyard Abundance

Mulberry photo/Backyard Abundance

Two Backyard Abundance events coming up in the Iowa City area will teach participants about foraging and also offer an opportunity to help build the foundation for an “edible forest.”

Find background on the edible forest here and read more about both events from Backyard Abundance:

NORTH LIBERTY, IA – To help residents learn how to find, identify, and prepare edible plants, flowers and fungi that grow in the wild, Backyard Abundance is hosting a class on Sunday, June 22 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Lake MacBride Nature Recreation Area north of North Liberty. The event begins at the Bluestem Shelter located a half mile into the park.

The event is free and child-friendly. Attendees should bring collection bags and appropriate hiking gear for traversing off-trail: long pants, hat, sturdy footwear, water bottle. Attendees should take precautions for ticks and poison ivy.

“This will be fun and informative event. Grocery store food prices are increasing while the nutrient density of the food is decreasing,” says Mike Loots, who will lead the event. “Hiking and foraging for nutrient-rich, wild food increases physical health and saves money on grocery and doctor bills. More importantly, foraging helps us understand the vital importance of healthy ecosystems in a very direct, tactile way.”


Backyard Abundance is an Iowa City-based nonprofit that helps build vibrant communities by creating beautiful, resilient landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.

backyardabundanceIOWA CITY – Backyard Abundance and Iowa City Parks and Recreation will host the second Wetherby Edible Forest Site Preparation Party on Saturday, June 28 from 9 am to noon. The event will be held at the site of the park’s future community orchard, located just west of the parking lot at 2400 Taylor Drive, Iowa City.

Volunteers will finish mulching over a 1/3 acre area that has been designated to become Iowa City’s first public edible forest. Attendees are asked to wear standard gardening attire such as jeans, boots and gloves and to bring steel rakes, shovels, and wheel barrows if they have these tools available. Those who attend, however, can look forward to more than just a morning of work.

“Like the first mulching event in April, we expect this to be a very fun, festive atmosphere,” said Backyard Abundance Director Fred Meyer. “Along with mulching we will have plenty of entertainment and educational opportunities. Volunteers won’t need to have green thumbs, just a willingness to get involved and to enjoy a summer morning amongst neighbors and friends working to kickoff this amazing new project.”

Activities planned include site tours with discussion of the various nuts, berries, fruits, and herbs that people can look forward to harvesting once the orchard is established. A variety of homemade snacks, herbal teas, and free seeds will be provided. The Master Gardeners will answer gardening questions and provide handouts.

The Wetherby Edible Forest project began to take shape earlier this year, with community members participating in a pair of visioning meetings held in February. At the first meeting attendees brainstormed ideas on different plants, features and activities they hoped to see implemented at the park. Preliminary designs were created from this input and revealed at the second meeting, which allowed the opportunity for further conversation and refinement. Backyard Abundance designers then took all public opinion into consideration and in March drafted a final design which is available on the Backyard Abundance Facebook page and website. On April 12, volunteers mulched half of the area during a wonderful spring afternoon. Planting will happen next April after the mulch has turned the turfgrass into nutrient-rich soil.

Once established, Wetherby Edible Forest will provide a free source of nutritious locally grown food for the community. It will allow neighbors an opportunity to join together in caring for a shared asset that benefits public health, rehabilitates the local ecosystem, and can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Funding for this project comes from a $23,000 Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Specialty Crop Block Grant recently awarded to Backyard Abundance and Iowa City Parks and Recreation. The grant aims to help people learn to grow high-value orchard crops and enhance the competitiveness of these crops in Iowa. The program is meant to encourage growers to diversify their operations and to provide residents with locally grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

View the Wetherby Edible Forest design:

Learn more about the Wetherby Edible Forest:


Iowa City Parks and Recreation oversees the development and maintenance of all Iowa City parks and administers park-related programs.

Backyard Abundance is an Iowa City-based nonprofit that helps build vibrant communities by creating beautiful, resilient landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.