Memoirs from a Food Forest

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The hills are alive with the sound of 'food foresters' celebrating the fruition of an amazing food forest project. The time has come to run through the CGC’s community food forest and sing joyfully, while picking strawberries and gazing at beautiful flowers and foliages. There is also a sense of freedom amongst the food forest coordinators, as the responsibility of creating an edible masterpiece is now lifted off our shoulders, because, we did it!!! The landscape is full of edible and medicinal plants, which can be accessed by the hand dug terraces and pathways that we carved into the steep slopes. After months of excitement and curiosity of what shape the food forest would take once we had everything planted, here we are, posing for pictures with the flowers and sitting under the pergola watching it grow.

The Station Celebration on June 28th was our first chance to invite people to come take a look at the transformation of the hills behind the building. It was wonderful to watch people walk along the paths we'd made and discover the edible treats and beauty that we've been encouraging to grow and flourish throughout landscape. Our friend and teacher Tousilum reflected that 'the gardens are hugging the building,’ and helping it heal from a destructive past. The 'archeological' findings we discovered when we were digging up invasive weedy plants gave us an idea of what this area used to be. Amongst the invasive bindweed and ivy, we found countless broken beer and liquor bottles, lighters, cigarette box tabs, and a huge assortment of garbage tossed into the bushes. The area is now transformed into a space so greatly cared for that we have volunteers coming to help and at least four or five staff members who have cried tears of joy as they experience the vast improvement.

Community Urban Food Forest

We were all reminded during Judy's speech at The Station Celebration of how we got the gardens to where they are today. She stood up on the stage and listed some grand totals of materials that we had worked with to make this blissful place. We planted approximately 550 plants, as well as over 150 plants that were donated and salvaged. We brought in 14 yards of manure, 13 yards of garden soil, 12 yards of compost and 24 yards of mulch. We also carried in over fifty 5-8 foot long logs and cedar off cuts, plus all the milled lumber for the beautiful fences and pergola. We kick started the soil improvements with several different organic soil health enhancers such as alfalfa pellets, liquid kelp and mycorrizal fungi. There were countless truck loads of invasive blackberry, ivy, bindweed and horsetail, as well as concrete chunks and bits of garbage that were hauled off the site. There was over 200 hours of volunteer time.

It was awesome to celebrate the creation of an urban food forest! We have watched staff members from Corfield Cafe come out into the gardens on their break for a stretch and a therapeutic sniff of lavender. We have had visitors bring their kids who find the 'strawberry waterfall' in the mural garden almost as fast as a hummingbird. We are proud to introduce the concept to the passer-by that, like at Charlie's Chocolate Factory almost everything you see here is edible! Walk two steps, pinch off a currant, walk another couple steps, grab a taste of a wasabi leaf. Allow the temptation of the purple orach leaves, the tiny wintergreen berries that taste like root beer, and the licorice flavour of anise hyssop to fill you with happiness.

Thank you to all who made this dream come true and let’s look forward to the joys of caring for our very first urban food forest far into the future. Join us to watch as the artichoke grows five times bigger, the Red Vanessa grapes cover the pergola, and the hops create a lush, fluffy vine along our hand milled cedar fence!