The Food Forest was a big push for us in the 2017 season. What is it you might be asking.
The Food Forest in each garden is our gift to High River. When we were first planning the High River Community Gardens we wanted to include something for the whole community. Of course our gardeners benefit from having a plot but how can we also benefit the rest of the people in High River.
The Food Forest is our answer. Each garden has reserved part of the land to plant perennial fruit trees, shrubs and vines as well as perennial herbs and flowers.
This was our base planting plan for the Riverside site. We have an excellent space with lots of sun.
Joan our Garden Manager, along with Peter and Lynda, took the lead for our food forest. They initially met for the preliminary planning after the design consultations.
While we did have a good draft plan, and there was a good chance we'd be making some adjustments based on plant availability, and on site considerations. We looked closely at the site conditions and after doing some research about varieties and viability in Chinook Zone 3 gardens, we made a few tweaks. Plant materials were ordered, and the work bees got organized.
Nathan and Milt loaded up the trucks at Five-Star, and caravanned the back roads through the prairies to town at a blistering 35 km/hr...got to protect the trees from wind damage!!! When they arrived at the garden, the food forest lands were abuzz with folks digging holes, mixing compost, preparing root drenches, driving stakes, levelling surfaces.....
Plant height and their relation to the South facing sun was considered, prevailing winds and exposure were examined, and ease of access to the produced fruits was hypothesized. A new layout was put together in situ, and away we went!
The initial plantings required frequent watering, and an adopt-a-plot scheme was developed where a gardener would volunteer to water a small group of trees/shrubs over the season. All of our trees/shrubs survived their establishment years thanks to this program. The ground however was left barren...we didn't have any sort of ground cover the first two years.
That would change with the purchase of new mulch for the pathways. All of the gardens old pathway mulch was scraped up and redistributed over the food forest area as a means of deterring the hot summers baking off of soil moisture. A large contingent of volunteers spent the day raking and loading wheel barrows to move the old mulch and distribute new mulch over the garden paths.
The pergola was a beautiful addition to the garden in 2018 (thanks to ___ for building and installing it!!) along with the tool shed.
Finally, in 2020 we developed the food forest walking path, and established native cover grasses mixed in with nurse crop grasses. Our current garden iteration requires some perennial beds to attract pollinators and finish off the landscaping in respect of the surrounding residences, so keep your ears open for volunteer opportunities!
We'll update this page as plans progress.