‘Edible forest’ takes root
The first 16 trees in an edible forest are now taking root on a utility corridor adjacent to the Red Deer subdivision of Normandeau.
Given good management and good weather, those trees will bloom in spring and, by this time next year, produce a bountiful crop of apples, apricots, sour cherries, pears and red plums, says city arborist Elaine Johnson.
She was among a corps of city staff who came on their own time to join about 35 volunteers in planting Red Deer’s first food forest, creating a small orchard whose fruits will be free for the picking.
Rene Michalak, executive director for Rethink Red Deer, said the food forest is one more step toward creating urban spaces that are self-sustaining.
Trees were contributed by local growers at Parkland Nursery and Garden Centre and Blue Grass Sod Farm as well as Millcreek Nursery in Edmonton.
Located along a utility corridor, the trees were placed in a way that they will not have to be disturbed if the underground services need to be dug up at some point in the future, said Johnson.
The trees will be a permanent part of the landscape along the eastern edge of Normandeau, in between the residential area and the commercial strip along Gaetz and 51st Avenues, she said.
Ken Lehman, parks planning and ecological specialist for the city, said the food forest will benefit the community by offering everyone access to healthy food.
Lehman acknowledged that the plot’s civic address, 5320 - 67 St., is a bit misleading, since the plot where the trees were dug in is actually north of Nash Street, in between 52d and Niven Avenues. Because it is a utility corridor, there is no street address for the site, he said. People can find the plot by walking north from Nash Street, just past the community garden plots.
Further plantings are being considered for the future, including saskatoons and honeyberries.