2016 TreeMobile/OrchardPeople.com Community Orchard Award Recipients
Giving Community Orchards a Head Start – With Free Fruit Tree Care Training and Trees!
Do you want to plant a community orchard, but you don’t have the cash to buy fruit trees and fruit tree care training? That was a problem faced by a number of community groups in Toronto and Guelph. Then they heard about the TreeMobile and Orchard People Edible Garden Grant which offers community groups free trees – and 8-hours of online fruit tree care training to go along with it.
The TreeMobile/Orchard People.com Edible Community Garden Awards includes a number of grants available to volunteer and non-profit projects. Awards are valued between $150 to $750 and include the delivery of trees alongside online fruit tree care training at www.orchardpeople.com.
This annual award is made possible through the donation of fruit trees by TreeMobile, a nonprofit volunteer-run plant delivery service which is associated with both Transition Toronto and Transition Guelph. The other partner is Orchard People is a company which specializes in online fruit tree care education and training.
The grants come in three tiers; the Garden Grant valued at $150; the Orchard Grant valued at $450; and the Edible Forest Grant, valued at $750. Grants are distributed in and around Toronto and Guelph. This year’s winners are a fantastic and diverse group, and each group has amazing potential. Their grants are well deserved – let’s see who they are!
The Garden at Kimbourne won the Edible Forest Grant. This is a permaculture project at the Kimbourne Park United Church in the Danforth/Coxwell area. The garden is run by volunteers across every spectrum of Canadian society and it is planted next door to the Kimbourne Park United Church. Their mission is explicitly community-fueled, and so the harvest is divided in half each year, with half going back to active members and contributors, and the other half going to the Glen Rhodes Food Bank. Their end goal is to create a self-contained, natural ecosystem within the garden. In short, they’re bringing nature into the city.
The winner of this year’s Orchard Grant went to the Morningside-High Park Community Garden, associated with the Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Between welcoming a wide range of people to contribute, to offering cooking and preserving lessons, to passing along their own seeds to farmers in Africa, this garden does its part to bring the world together. Their goal is to be a giving hand in their community and beyond.
Greenest City and Friends of Masaryk Park
Greenest City and Friends of Masaryk Park won the Garden Grant and their award was upgraded to include three trees. They want to train people in their community in the art of gardening and work towards starting a ‘train the trainer’ program to help their community begin to grow on its own. Eventually they want to create a food hub, working alongside other local organizations. Their project, which began with the HOPE Community Garden, provides growing spaces mostly to people who rent their homes and don’t have access to a place to plant their own gardens.
Edible Forest Heights
The three following groups achieved a three-way-tie for the second tier Orchard Awards. The first of these winners is the Edible Forest Heights, a suburban project associated with the Forest Heights community centre in Kitchener. It was initiated by Nicola Thomas in 2015 after a community member suggested the creation of a community garden. Currently, the Edible Forest Heights committee includes a principal and biology teacher, a permaculture advocate in Nicola, and two members of the local neighbourhood association. Community members of all ages, ranging from toddlers to seniors contribute to the garden; it is described as ‘multi-generational and multicultural’.
rare Charitable Research Reserve
The rare Charitable Research Reserve is an environmental conservation reserve stretching across 900 acres of land in the Waterloo region at the junction of the Grand and Speed Rivers. An enormous natural space, over 260 volunteers support the organization with duties ranging from upkeep, to education, to work with at-risk youth in their community. They teach about gardening and food security to over 2000 students throughout a year, and the volunteers grew and donated over 1300 pounds of organic produce to the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank last year. This volunteer-run organization will now be able to add fruit trees to an already blooming community garden within the reserve.
Flamborough Baptist Community Garden
Flamborough Baptist Community Garden is a community garden based in Flamborough. One of this group’s goals is to become more educated in the ins and outs of gardening, and learn how to most effectively care for their plants and trees. Found on the outskirts of Waterdown, the location feels like it’s in the countryside. The garden’s on the property of the Flamborough Baptist Church and initially sprouted from a simple lawn to a 45 raised beds, compost, mulch, and much much more in only six weeks! The land already possessed several pear and apple trees, and though they’re quite old they’re still kickin’. The gardeners intend to add more fruit trees to the existing garden as well as expand what they have – they’re all very excited.
Mashkikii;aki’ing Medicine Wheel Garden
The runner-up was the Mashkikii;aki’ing Medicine Wheel Garden. This garden has a partnership with the Native Men’s Residence (or Na-Me-Res) and The Stop Community Food Centre of Toronto. Na-Me-Res is a charity that helps Native men in Toronto get back on their feet and learn life skills to help them better themselves in everyday life. Their approach is centred in Indigenous land and food sovereignty, and their community gardening project helps foster community and cultural exchange between nations.
Intern at OrchardPeople.com.
Kameron Chausse is a Windsor, Ontario based writer and student at St Clair College. He is currently an intern for the fruit tree care education website www.orchardpeople.com.