College unveils demo food forest

Kalamalka Demonstration Garden kicks off its first planting project this weekend

The Kalamalka Demonstration Garden kicks off its first planting project Friday and Saturday, with the creation of a demonstration food forest area at Okanagan College.

More than 150 trees, bushes, shrubs, herbs, vines, flowers and some root crops will be planted with the help of students from Vernon Secondary School’s environmental leadership class, community volunteers and Okanagan College students and staff.

“This garden will be a long-term low maintenance food solution,” said Gordon Hiebert, a Continuing Studies instructor at OC.

“Once the food forest is established the plants can be used for food, fuel, fibre (mulch), fodder, fertilizer and farmeceuticals. Also, because the plants are perennial and mostly native they will require less water than annual vegetables.”

The project is supported by the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan through a grant from Tree Canada and by Okanagan College’s Innovation Fund.

“This is truly a win-win partnership,” said Jane Lister, OC regional dean.

“The college and community have come together to create an educational space to promote sustainable agriculture while opening the door to new programming and skill-building through practical application.”

The food forest marks the first planting project for the garden, which up until now has focused on implementing the required infrastructure and water conservation features.

The food forest is one component of the permaculture landscapes that will be featured at the garden. The garden will eventually be comprised of a number of agricultural projects, including vegetable crops and a greenhouse. It will also demonstrate passive water conservation practices such as contour swales and curb cuts.

In addition, the site will host Patchwork Community Farms – a collective community garden designed to provide inclusive recreation and educational programming for community members. Food grown at the farm will be distributed to community groups serving those who may lack access to fresh produce.

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