Food trees donated for public spaces in Greater Victoria

Good Food Network and Le Coteau Nursery program will donate 150 fruit trees for Canada’s 150th anniversary

Spring is here, and not soon enough, what a winter. With the growing daylight hours and the sun starting to warm our soils it’s time to get focused on food growing again.

A highlight this spring is the 150 Fruit Tree Good Food Network Giveaway. It is the 150th anniversary of Canada and as part of the celebration Rob Harris from Le Coteau Nursery is teaming up with the Good Food Network to donate 150 food trees and shrubs to be distributed across the Capital Region. The initiative is open to schools, community groups, First Nations and local governments. The food trees and shrubs must be planted on public lands so they can be enjoyed by the community. There is a wide variety of food plants that you can apply for including fruit and nut trees, but also fruit-bearing bushes and other edible plants.

Now is the time to plant your fruit trees and the hardest part about this is choosing what you want to plant. You will want to have a browse of the edible product list on the Le Coteau Nursery website (www.lecoteau.com). There is a wide selection of pear, cherry, peach, plum, prune, apricot, nectarine, quince, persimmon, citrus, nut trees and berries. Of course there are applies too, but we are not just talking apples, we are talking 60 varieties of apples.

I asked Rob why he was donating the trees and he told me that his belief in people growing their own food was his reason for getting into his business. “It doesn’t make sense that we are bringing fruit from California, when we have a great climate and environment to grow food right here.”

Donating 150 fruit trees is quite an investment in the community, but Rob feels it’s worth it. “Blueberries don’t come in little cups from the grocery store, they come from bushes and are so good to eat when they are handpicked. Kids can have the opportunity to experience this first hand when we grow blueberry bushes at a school or neighbourhood park.”

The Good Food Network wants to emphasize that there needs to be permission to plant the trees and a plan must be in place to look after the trees and the harvest.

There are quite a few community gardens, school gardens and community orchards that could benefit from this program across the region and many partners are working to get the word out widely.

“The CRD is happy to work with CR FAIR (who co-ordinate the Good Food Network) and Le Coteau Nursery to distribute these trees and bushes,” said CRD senior manager Signe Bagh “The initiative aligns with the aims of our new Food and Agriculture Strategy and new Regional Food and Agriculture Task Force in promoting awareness and raising the profile of local food and agriculture in communities around the region.”

Would you like to be part of the celebration and plant some food trees or shrubs? Go to www.crfair.ca and click on the homepage link to find out how to apply. The deadline for this round is April 3. If you are inspired to add some fruit and edible plants to your garden and landscaping this year, I urge you to go and visit Le Coteau nursery or their site at Mattick’s Farm, Seaberry Garden and Flowers. Let’s get growing,

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

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