Community Orchard

By the community, for the community

In the past few years you may have noticed some changes in the field on the wild side of the chain link fence: buckthorn trees going missing, fruit trees and flowers taking their place, not to mention the addition of an odd looking tarp-and-water tank contraption with hoses coming out of it.  In case you were wondering what was going on, it’s Ottawa’s first community orchard, and everyone is welcome to check it out!

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In 2012 the Heron Park Community Orchard project was launched when members of the Community Association planted two apple and two pear trees just north of the basketball court at Heron Park. It was a ground breaking event in more than just the obvious way since it was the first time that fruit trees were planted on public land in Ottawa with the City’s permission.

In 2014 volunteers did a food forest  “retrofit” to support the original fruit trees, as well as designing a rain-harvesting and gravity-fed irrigation system using recycled materials.

End of day one! Time to go home and dry off.

Planting the food forest in 2014. A soggy but enthusiastic crew!

The Heron Park Community Orchard is designed to be a food forest. Food forests mimic wild forests but are meant to meet human needs (for food, medicine and beauty) while also providing wildlife habitat and other important environmental services.  The orchard contains a diverse range of perennials including fruit trees and shrubs, root crops (like Jerusalem artichoke) and berries (raspberries, strawberries, red currants, highbush cranberries) and herbs (peppermint, lemon balm, anise hyssop).

In October, 2015, community members worked for two days to add three new beds, two new fruit trees (an Asian pear and another apple tree) as well as a diverse range of edible native and non-native plants.

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New bed on the left with Asian pear, Strawberries, Haskap and more. The rain-water harvesting system is visible in the background.

In 2016 we will be organizing a number of orchard-related events, and would love your ideas and energy to help make the orchard a vibrant and welcoming place!  We are especially interested in connecting with local schools and creating programming for children.

To help with long-term care for the orchard, suggest workshops or activities, and help plan the next planting event please contact Sarah M.L. Walker at communityorchardottawa@gmail.com (subject heading: Volunteering).

 

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