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6 Years and Growing – CFI’s Experiment in Cold Climate Food Foresting Continues to Flourish

by Daimen Hardie on April 21, 2014

CFI food forest in bloom - Sackville, N.B., Canada

 

The Sackville Community Garden, led by a core of devoted local gardeners and staff of the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN), has been supplying CFI’s home community with fresh and healthy food free of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers since 2003.  When Community Forests International got inspired by our change-making mentors in Pemba to start doing practical, hands-on work in our own community, the Sackville Community Garden was the obvious place to break ground, and an innovative community ‘food forest’ the perfect starter project. 

Food forest gardening is something most often associated with tropical locales like Pemba.  When we got down to work designing a cold climate version for Sackville's East Coast Canadian environment we quickly learned how few resources existed to support the experiment.  Used to learning by doing anyhow, we enjoyed working with the existing food forest design concepts and drawing inspiration from the region’s natural Acadian Forest type to fill in the gaps.  After only 5 seasons growing, CFI’s Acadian Forest-inspired edible garden is now popping - living proof that we can grow abundant food in the image of natural woodlands even here in the relative extremes of the Maritimes.

CFI food forest before (2009) and after (2013) - Sackville, N.B., Canada

 

This summer CFI and the Sackville Community Gardeners will team up again to expand our community food landscape.  With support from Tree Canada and its Edible Trees Program sponsors Silk and Telus, volunteers will now establish a community orchard at the site of the existing gardens.  The community orchard will include traditional fruit & nut trees such as apple and hazelnut, as well as novel varieties such as asian pear and mulberry.  Once again, we will draw inspiration for the orchard from leading examples in Pemba -  the orchard trees will be integrated with the existing community garden plots in a synergistic approach similar to the practice of ‘agroforestry’. 

Maize, banana, coconut, & mango agroforestry plot - Pemba Island, Tanzania

 

Rather than viewing annual garden beds and fruit & nut trees as conflicting elements, at the community garden the two will be carefully integrated in the same space.  Annual vegetable crops will benefit from the wind protection, nutrient and moisture cycling, and leaf litter supplied by widely spaced trees, and the trees will in turn benefit from increased pollination, reduced competition from grasses, and extra soil fertility provided by the veggie patches.

What do you think?  Do you have any ideas that we should consider? Want to learn more and share your experience?  CFI and the Sackville Community Garden will be hosting a workshop on June 21st to share these community food innovations – all are welcome to join the experiment!  For more information or to register for this event please visit our Workshops page.

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