Monday, October 5, 2009

Community Orchard pilot program aims to bear fruit

City of Calgary’s Park's staff hope that a new pilot program will literally bear fruit in upcoming years.

On Saturday, Park's staff and community volunteers launched the Community Orchards pilot program in Hillhurst- Sunnyside .

In addition to determining the feasibility of growing fruit and nut trees in Calgary’s climate, this pilot project is designed to foster community involvement through educating citizens about local food production.

Activities at the event also included mason bee box building and distribution of cherry bushes.
For now, the pilot is limited to only a few communities in Calgary – but the public are able to visit Hillhurst- Sunnyside’s Orchard located at 940 - 4A St. N.W. to see the new crop.

The community orchard pilot project will determine if public and community-run orchards can grow, thrive, and produce in Calgary. The test orchards will be evaluated using indicators such as tree survival, fruit yield, vandalism, disease and pest damage, cost, orchard steward satisfaction, and the community's capacity to manage the orchard. Ongoing evaluation throughout the trial period will be used to determine the viability and productivity of various fruit and nut trees and shrubs. Parks will consider program expansion based on the results of this pilot.

The Community Orchard Pilot Project is intended to:
  • Encourage local food production.
  • Foster community involvement.
  • Educate Calgarians about techniques related to fruit tree care as well as methods for preserving and storing fruit.
  • Demonstrate and test a range of fruit trees and shrubs.
  • Evaluate the success of community orchard models, share results and recommend changes, if required.
Check out this video of the event, including an interview with Park’s Urban forestry Coordinator, Russell Friesen, and Community Orchard Volunteer Tim Kitchen.

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