Libby McMinn stand in an area of Highlands Community Garden that will become part of a food forest. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Highlands Community Garden hosts food forest workshop

Edible trees grant plants the seeds

Highlands Community Garden’s food forest is a growing concern, thanks to a grant from Tree Canada.

The garden, which opened in May, is adding a food forest which will contain a wide selection of food-producing trees, said Libby McMinn, co-chair of Highlands Community Garden. “We’re extremely grateful for the grant that will form the backbone of the food forest we’re developing,” she noted. Tree Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes and nurtures the planting of tree in rural and urban area, donated $4,000 through it edible trees grant program. The funding enables the purchase of about 30 common fruit trees, including apple, pear, plum and cherry, McMinn noted, adding that the garden is a communal resource all members have access to. “We’re also planting some less common varieties, including mulberry, persimmon, almond and fig. Our goal is to demonstrate what’s possible in the Highlands, and to give people a place where they can grow food because most Highlands residents have poor soil, limited water and sunlight, and lots of deer.”

Highlands Community Garden, which has about 30 members, is hosting Food Forests: an ecological approach to growing for the future, toward that end. It will look at the design, benefits and appropriate plants for a food forest. Highlands Coun. Gord Baird, who will present the workshop, has a wealth of knowledge on permaculture principles and practices, plant selection, soil nutrients and management and pruning and grafting, McMinn noted.

Baird and his wife, Ann, co-owners of Eco-Sense Nursery, have developed a food forest on their property in the Highlands which provides the majority of their diet, along with annual crops.

“Food forestry is a practice of creating productive and stable food systems that mimic the natural ecological patterns,”

Baird explained. “These systems rely on interconnected relationships between plants, soil, microbes and fungi, and are more resilient to climate disruptions. They are also less prone to the impacts of drought and require minimal management once they are established. The concepts really arise from the methods employed by Indigenous people across the planet, and it’s commonly referred to as permaculture.”

The free workshop is on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Highlands Community Hall at 729 Finlayson Arm Rd. For more information on the garden or the workshop, email

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