People, Plants, and Fungi: Examining the Ecological and Social Landscapes of the Swan Creek Park Food Forest

Meschi, Renee - University of Puget Sound

The Swan Creek Park Food Forest (SCPFF) in Tacoma, Washington is an ethnobotanical trail located in the city’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood. My project is a portrait of the SCPFF site’s social and ecological landscapes, told via the historical connections between people and plants, and the ways in which they continue to affect one another.

I begin with an outline of the ethnobotany of local Native American tribes. I then illustrate how waves of immigration intensified the complexity of the SCPFF site, incorporating nonnative and invasive plants to the site's biological narrative. I then outline a method for determining the informal names of plants and mushrooms that are important to today's diverse stakeholders, but difficult to translate because they are passed down through oral tradition.

This research provides the basis for culturally and historically sensitive surveys and interviews that will allow for greater multicultural inclusion as the SCPFF develops.