The City of Calgary’s Community Orchard Research Project is a terrific example of the importance of doing your homework before you plant a fruit tree. While many of us quickly buy the first trees we find and toss them in the ground, Calgary city staff knew they had to do their research if they were to grow successful community orchards.
“When we launched the community orchard program in 2009, everyone wanted an orchard in their park. We don’t want to set up communities for failure, so it was important to help them choose the right trees,” says Jill Anne Spence, Urban Forestry Lead for the City of Calgary.
So, forestry staff worked with fruit tree experts from the University of Saskatchewan to help identify fruit trees that might thrive in Calgary’s unique and challenging climate conditions.
In 2009, forestry staff helped a number of community groups in parks plant their new trees, and they are following up with studies to see how many trees have survived and which have thrived in their new homes.
I love the example of Calgary’s Community Orchard pilot project because it highlights the importance of choosing the right fruit trees – a step that far too many overlook and the reason I created my Researching your Fruit Tree workshop. In it, I talk more about Calgary’s experience.
I look forward to visiting Calgary’s maturing orchards one day soon to see what else I can learn from them firsthand.