Defranco Sarabia is a committee member for the Padre Park Food Forest Project developing San Antonio’s first food forest in the southside park.
If you’ve never heard of a food forest you’re not alone.
Project Food Forest says, “A food forest, also called a forest garden, is a diverse planting of edible plants that attempts to mimic the ecosystems and patterns found in nature.”
According to the project’s webpage The Padre Park Community Food Forest is a four-acre section in Padre Park being built and maintained by San Antonians.
The page states that, “The Food Forest will help provide a source of fresh local food, build resilience, environmental sustainability, wellness, and connections to our flourishing community.”
The project is still in the design phase.
Sarabia said, “We are in the development phases. So, we are searching for community members to help lead the conversation to ensure that it does serve the community.”
One of those community members is Jesus Jose Reyes, Jr. who became involved in the food forest project after attending a neighborhood association meeting. He discussed why he got involved with the food forest.
Reyes said, “I became interested in helping the community members, my neighbors, with their health and wellbeing. Maybe through harvesting natural foods.”
The food forest will have a 40-tree pecan orchard.
“With our pecan orchard we hope to produce a really substantial amount of food, to create different types of products, a bunch of good stuff,” Sarabia said.
The pecan is the Texas State Tree and a native tree to the San Antonio area.
Reyes views the food forest through the lens of three personal goals.
“I would like to teach people your connection with the creator first. Then your connection with all your neighbors, your friends, and your family,” he said, “Leaving a legend behind that’s the third thing. Leaving that legend behind of teaching and healing culturally.”
Sarabia talked about the Padre Park Food Forest being the start of a worldwide trend.
“This is the start of something amazing. This has been my focus for quite a while. If we just think about this, we could have food forests everywhere supplying food and justice to communities worldwide and it starts here. We could use all of your help and community efforts making sure that it is the right place and we do have our hearts and minds set in the right place,” Sarabia said.
The Padre Park Food Forest Project is an initiative of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio. San Antonio residents who want more information or to join the conversation can go to https://www.foodpolicysa.org/initiatives/urban-agriculture/food-forest/.