Community orchard to boost access to healthy food

Apples, plums, pears and saskatoons are just a few offerings ripe for planting in Red Deer’s first community orchard.

Apples, plums, pears and saskatoons are just a few offerings ripe for planting in Red Deer’s first community orchard.

The Parkside Community Food Forest is a City of Red Deer, ReThink Red Deer and local grower project that aims to increase equitable access to healthy food.

Ken Lehman, City of Red Deer Parks ecological and planning specialist, said the public will be able to pick berries and fruit at the food forest at no cost.

Lehman said adding more edible landscapes to Red Deer has been in the works for a few years. He said the project will have a permaculture design working within existing vegetation trees and garden plots. The site will be maintained by the partners.

Since pollinators are crucial to many food sources, a pollinator garden will also be developed at the site.

But the orchard may be a few years off, as there’s much planting ahead.

On Sept. 7, volunteers with a green thumb are invited to plant trees and shrubs at the site (5320 67th St.) next to the Parkside Garden plots. The planting session runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A Tree Canada matching grant of $3,000 allowed the groups to make this project a reality. Trees and shrubs were bought using the grant. Local businesses have also donated materials for the project.

Planting will proceed rain or shine. Participants are encouraged to wear gloves and sturdy footwear.

Locally grown garden finger foods will be provided.

“It’s going to be fun getting some dirt under our fingernails,” said Lehman.

For more information, call 403-342-8234

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