The public is invited to dig in for the planting of the new Parkside Community Food Forest. The planting event will take place on Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Parkside Gardens area, located at 5320 – 67 St.
“This will be Red Deer’s first community food forest, and it will have everything from apple, plum and pear trees to Saskatoon and honeyberries,” said Ken Lehman, parks planning and ecological specialist with the City of Red Deer. “We’re very excited to undertake this project with the community’s help and, in the coming years, the forest will help the community by increasing equitable access to healthy food.”
The new food forest and the planting event are possible thanks to a partnership between Tree Canada, the City of Red Deer and ReThink Red Deer, with support from Blue Grass Sod Farms and Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre.
Tree Canada provided a $3,000 grant for trees, which was matched with $3,000 from the City. ReThink Red Deer is also involved with the planning of the food forest and the planting event, as the area is an ideal fit with its philosophy of creating an edible urban landscape.
“We’re always looking at ways to create self-sustaining urban agricultural spaces,” said Rene Michalak of ReThink Red Deer. “This community food forest will be a great way to do this, and it will meet a growing need that people have to connect with their food and where it comes from.”
The new area will be located next to Parkside Garden plots, which are prepared and managed by the City of Red Deer. Members of the public register and pay fees to use these plots each growing season.
“This is a great opportunity to expand the overall garden site,” said Lehman. “The garden plots will continue to provide locations for people to grow their personal produce, and the food forest will create an area where anyone can pick fruit and berries.”
A pollinator garden will also be developed at the site, since pollinators are crucial to many food sources, including fruit trees. The garden will draw these beneficial insects to the site and increase public awareness about the role they play.
On Sept. 7, people interested in helping to plant the trees and shrubs can go to Parkside Garden plots, located behind Save-On-Foods on 67 St.
Planting will proceed rain or shine and participants are encouraged to bring gloves and wear sturdy footwear. Organizers will provide snacks including locally grown food such as berries, vegetables and other garden finger foods.
For more information, contact 403-342-8234. Further information on gardening opportunities with the City is available at www.reddeer.ca/parks.