Volunters wheels mulch through the espaliered heirloom apple trees in Strathcona Community Garden in Vancouver, B.C. Photo Credit: Susan Poizner

Volunters wheels mulch through the espaliered heirloom apple trees in Strathcona Community Garden in Vancouver, B.C. Photo Credit: Susan Poizner

Okay, if anybody did it first in Canada, it’s Strathcona Community Gardens. This amazing place in Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood is an abundant oasis. Not only are there more than 200 garden plots that locals can rent for the symbolic fee of $15 a year, but since the 1970s, they have been planting fruit trees of every kind in their garden including apples, pears, cherries, plums, and even pawpaws.

I arrived on a beautiful day in the spring when the fruit trees were blossoming and the light was soft. The whole place was magical, but when I saw the espaliered fruit trees – that is, fruit trees grown on fences – I was very inspired. In our urban gardens, we often don’t have space for big, sprawling trees, but when you grow your trees on fences, you can put more types of trees in a small space. If you have room for a fence (and a full sun garden), you have room for fruit trees.

One of Strathcona’s leading members is David Tracey, an arborist, landscape designer, and author about sustainable gardening. He guides members in their fruit tree care activities on community work party days. Soil management is an important focus for them as they add homemade compost and other organic fertilizers in the early spring. You can learn more about that in UrbanFruitTree.com’s soil workshop.

If you’re in Vancouver during the growing season, the Strathcona Community Garden is an essential place to visit and chat with the gardeners there who are tending their plots. Or, if you want to see their tree-tending activities in action,  join them for a work party day. These take place on the last Sunday of every month. Members care for communal assets like pathways, the compost pile, and the fruit trees. It’s a magical place to visit.

By the way, if you are interested in growing  fruit trees, check out my Online Certificate in Beginner Fruit Tree Care where I’ll teach you about how to choose your fruit trees, how to plant and prune them, protecting them from pests and disease and more. Make sure you’re on my mailing list so I can notify you when it’s ready.