10.2% of the population in Billings has been identified as experiencing poverty.
In the South Side Neighborhood, around 47% of the population is living below the federal poverty line.
According to the 2020 Community Health Assessment of Yellowstone County, conducted by the Healthcare Alliance of Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health, and St. Vincent Healthcare, 22.7% of Yellowstone County residents have low food access, meaning they do not live near a supermarket or grocery store.
18.1% of community residents are determined to be “food insecure”, having run out of food in the past year and/or been worried about running out of food.
Community gardens have been established over the years around the city to address food insecurity, and the gardens are now composed of a wide mix of individuals who grow their own produce and benefit from educational workshops each year. To take this mission a step further, the Parks and Recreation Department decided to label fruit-bearing trees within the parks system on a public database. By labeling and mapping the edible resources on a digitally updated, accessible map, community members have more autonomy over their food security.
The Parkland Gleaning Project was formed in 2018 through the collaborative efforts of the Billings Metro VISTA Project and the Parks and Recreation Department
These fruit trees are a public food resource that the public can glean from. Gleaning is defined as the collection of excess fresh food from resources in the community and the distribution of it to those in need. Through the development of the Parkland Gleaning Project, the Billings Parks and Recreation Department wants to expand the definition of gleaning by creating a living map of existing food resources within the park system. Gleaning from public lands simultaneously helps to address the pressing issues of food insecurity and malnutrition in low-income neighborhood as well as the global effect of food waste and resource consumption.
All of the Billings Parks and Recreation’s Fruit Trees have been mapped on FallingFruit.org. This website is an editable database through which anyone can map food-producing trees around the country and the world. The website was created as a resource for urban foraging and for people to reconnect with the land.
Parkland Gleaning Parks
The parks listed below are the primary 7 parks included in the Parkland Gleaning Project. However, if you use FallingFruit.org, you will see that many other parks and public areas in Billings also contain fruit-producing trees. You can filter the map on Fallingfruit.org by park/area or by fruit type.
In October 2018, the HDR Green Team dedicated their time to planting 12 fruit-producing trees and shrubs in Comanche Park, such as dwarf cherry shrubs, chokecherries, and pears. These fruit-bearing trees are located in the southeast corner of the park.
For The Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) United Way Day of Caring, they dedicated their time to planting a variety of fruit-bearing trees in Highland Park, such as Honey Crisp, Red Macintosh apples, and Toka Plums. These fruit bearing trees are located in the southwest corner of the park.
Kings Green Park
In May 2020, volunteers from Downtown Rotary Club dedicated their time to planting 13 trees in Kings Green Park. These fruit-bearing trees are located just west of Kings Green Drive.
The Girl Scouts of America and their families dedicated their time to planting a variety of fruit-bearing trees in Lillis Park, such as apples, plums, and cherries. These fruit bearing trees are located on the corner of Parkview Drive and Lillis Lane, toward the north side of the park.
In May 2020, the HDR Green Team dedicated their time to planting 15 fruit-bearing trees in Optimist Park, such as apples, pears, and plums. These fruit-bearing trees are located on the western edge of the park.
In October 2020, volunteers from Harvest Church, as well as some neighborhood volunteers dedicated their time to plant 15 fruit-bearing trees in Primrose Park, such as apples, pears, cherries, and plums. These fruit-bearing trees are located in the northwest corner of the park.
In Spring 2018, volunteers from Downtown Rotary Club dedicated their time to planting a variety of fruit-bearing trees in Rose Park, such as Honey Crips and Sweet Sixteen apples, and plums. These fruit-bearing trees are located on the northwest edge of the park, by the horseshoe pit.
We have a few different volunteer opportunities available within the Parkland Gleaning Project. If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering, please contact email@example.com.
Opportunities include harvesting and food distribution.
Before starting any project with us, we ask that you watch this video.
Here are some fun recipes to try as you go about your foraging adventures!