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Carolinian Food Forest Planting Day

Project type: 
Park Naturalization

Saturday September 29th dawned bright and sunny, with a threat of thunderstorms. Despite the ominous threat, families joined together in London’s first Carolinian Food Forest to enjoy a hearty, locally-sourced lunch (provided by London Training Centre as a pre-taste of what will someday grow from the Food Forest), and an early afternoon of planting and learning about permaculture. "Planting and nurturing a food forest provides a setting filled with learning opportunities; space and time to connect with others, and easy picking of healthy foods within our neighbourhood," said Teresa Rutten, a community gardener and volunteer who championed the idea of creating a food forest in London and gathered support from many partners. Many partners helped to make this project possible, including:

  • Hamilton Road Community Association
  • Crouch Community Resource Centre
  • City of London
  • Wild Craft Permaculture
  • Lester B. Pearson School of the Arts
  • London Training Centre

London's Carolinian Food Forest is a creative and collaborative naturalization project based on permaculture principles of design, implementation and care. The project site is 1 hectare in size, and just steps away from one of the City’s most active community gardens in South Branch Park in the Hamilton Road community. The master plan (to be implemented on the site over several years) includes pathways, information signage and planting beds. The forest has been planned for many months, beginning in Spring 2012 with extensive site preparation that included the removal of invasive plants and the laying of cardboard and compost to suppress weeds and enrich the soil.

On the September 29th planting day, many gifts—from willing hands to growth-encouraging rain—came together to get London’s Food Forest off to a great start. In the spirit of community-mindedness, several large native plum trees were donated by Van Den Nest Nursery, and crates of perennial splits were brought over from a well-established, Friends of the Coves planting. Dan and Mary-Lou Smoke conducted a First Nations ceremony before lunch, which included awakening the Forest (for the planting) and putting it to sleep (before winter) as well as an honour song for the trees that were to be planted. In 2 hours roughly 65 volunteers planted over 120 fruit and nut-bearing trees and shrubs and 500 edible herbaceous perennials native to Canada's Carolinian Zone. Just as the tools were packed away and the leftover food cleared off the communal table, the predicted storm clouds rolled in and heavy raindrops began to fall. A perfect end to a productive afternoon!