An environmentally responsible food forest grows in Highlands thanks to the community gardens committee.
The group started planting the food forest in May when the community gardens opened, said Libby McMinn, Co-chair of the Highlands Community Gardens, and recently finished planting the rest.
They wanted to replicate a forest-like ecosystem with plants for moisture retention, large trees, small trees, shrubs and vines. McMinn said she found through research that food foresting helps in adapting to climate change, there’s less disturbance to plants, more moisture retention, and good build up of bacterial and fungal activity.
“It’s very much a human food ecosystem with attracting pollinators for trees and annual crops,” McMinn said.
The community garden, on municipal land at 729 Finlayson Arm Rd. behind the community hall, is fenced in with the perimeter allocated to perennials and the trees.
“The food forest has annuals to perennials…there are berry bushes in amongst the trees and ground covers like strawberries,” she said. “There’s a wide variety of orchard trees: apples, pears, plums, cherries, almond and hazelnut. We also have the less common mulberry and persimmons.”
The group received a grant from Tree Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to greener and healthier living for Canadians. The $4000 grant from the edible tree program helped to purchase roughly 30 trees, some lower level plants and perform site work for the forest.
The community garden has allotment beds that people can rent for their own use.
For anyone who is a Highland Parks and Recreation member, the cost is $10 to participate. Members are required to volunteer 12 hours per year tending to the garden and in turn have access to the harvest.