Jostaberry, gooseberry, hazelnut, cranberry, loganberry, thimbleberry, honeyberry, and huckleberry … getting interested yet?
The land around The Station is going to be converted into a productive, perennial, food-growing landscape through CGC’s new Urban Food Forest Project. This project will run for six months, from January to July 2014, with funding provided by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.
We are excited to welcome three new staff, Erin, Alicia and Katie as project coordinators, who will be working with the support of Tessa, as the project supervisor. With the help of the community, this team will transform the poor soils, overgrown with invasive species and grasses, into an urban food forest with fertile soils supporting fruits, nuts, berries and perennial herbs.
The practice and idea of food forests is ancient in many ways, but relatively new to modern Western culture, especially in North America. One of the many benefits of food forests is that they produce high yields of food with less inputs and maintenance than conventional agriculture. The food forest concept uses a perennial polyculture of plants to create an edible ecosystem, which encompasses plants, animals and micro-organisms generating a system more than the sum of its parts.
The project will provide a demonstration site for people interested in planting perennial food plants around commercial buildings, as well as around their homes – backyards and parks, big and small. Signage will help identify food plants and herbs that are recommended for our local climate and outline the site design process. A How-To Guide will also be developed and available to the public to help describe the step-by-step details of how to put dreams of edible fruit trees and delicious berries into action.
A portion of the fruit grown in the Urban Food Forest will be distributed through CGC’s volunteer-run FruitSave program, which collects surplus fruit within the Cowichan Region and distributes it to local emergency food providers such as food banks and shelters. Food banks have a difficult time accessing fresh and nutritious produce, and it is CGC’s goal to provide them with donated produce during the harvest season.
Some of the anticipated longer term outcomes of the project will include increased agricultural production in downtown Duncan, and increased awareness in the community regarding edible landscaping. The project will serve as a fantastic demonstration of innovative ways to increase food security in our region.