I’ve been working these past few weeks in CFI’s Native Plant Nursery and Food Forest Garden, bundling them up for the winter. Luckily for us, it has been a warm fall, so we’ve had a little more extra time to get things ready for the snow….
Food Forest Garden?
A Food Forest is a garden that is constructed in the image of nature. We see that nature provides for itself and does not need watering, fertilization, or even weeding. Yet, nature is productive and resilient when it is not disturbed. How can we bring these same principles into our gardens? We create the same necessary ecological functions we see in nature and bring them into the food forest.
We started with the soil, 3 years ago. We added layers and layers of organic material – converting a lawn into a forest.
Starting with brown grassy soil in 2009 – we now have black loamy soil and our plants are thriving!! We bring in wood chips and straw every year to continue to build soil, while adding plants that: attract beneficial insects, repel pests, create natural mulch, accumulate necessary nutrients, create wildlife habitat, and provide food and medicine. As years pass, our Food Forest garden will need less outside input because nature does the work for us!
What we can create out of our Food Forest:
Lemon Balm Tea
Apple Sauce, Apple Pie or just plain Apples
Wild Ginger Candies
Northern Bayberry Leaf Spice
Rose Hip Jelly
Elder Flower Tea
Red Clover Tea
Witch Hazel Decoction
And coming soon: Native edible nuts!
Our Native Plant Nursery
Every year in Canada, CFI aims to plant thousands of trees in the Maritimes to restore biodiversity in the Acadian Forest. With many nurseries focusing on softwood trees, we saw a need to use under represented Acadian Forest species in our projects. So we collected seeds for stratification and planted trees in beds to use in our restoration projects for the summer of 2012.
Next year we hope to provide: Eastern White Cedar, Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Ironwood (Hop Hornbeam), White Ash, White Pine, and Red Spruce; as well as introduce shrubs and understory herbs into the nursery.
The chosen trees are long lived, slow growing, shade tolerant trees that are needed to restore the biodiversity of our forests so they can overcome the effects of climate change. Since the effects of climate change on the Acadian Forest are unknown, the best practice is to restore diversity by planting a variety of native softwoods, hardwoods, shrubs, and herbs in our backyards and on our woodlots.
Biological diversity includes a variety of plants, genetics, habitats, soils, and even tree ages. With diversity we create forest resilience that can withstand environmental stress and climate variability. We carry these ethics with us in our international projects, in hopes that by promoting community involvement and sharing knowledge globally, we can together make a difference.