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Community Garden expands effort to provide food security

Planting a public orchard new initiative for Outlook Community Garden.

OUTLOOK - The team of people who have spent the last few years planting, tending and harvesting the Outlook Community Garden added a project to their mandate with the planting of 150 fruit trees to create an orchard for public use in town.

Connie Achtymichuk, Provincial Specialist, Vegetable Crops, is Secretary of the Community Garden executive and says she saw this as a great project for the community.  “I have a bit of a passion for horticulture and this seemed like a good way to expand on the work of providing some food security for those in the community who need better access to safe and healthy food.” Over the course of two days in September, as many as 18 people came out to help plant 150 fruit trees. Garth Weiterman, Professional Agrologist, Water & Soils Specialist, is the Chair of the Community Garden executive and said this initial planting included apples, pears, plums, cherries, saskatoons, pincherries, chokecherries, cranberries and black currants. The trees were planted along the Sky Trail between McKenzie and Cross Street, with more to come. Weiterman said, “This initial planting will be completed in the spring of 2023 with the planting of haskap.  This section could be considered Phase 1 of a plan to see trees planted from the Museum to the SkyTrail.”

In addition to those who helped with the planting, there were town employees who delivered compost and watered the trees, as well as assistance from Lyle Rankin who brought a skid steer and pole hole auger to drill the 150 holes that were needed. Weiterman said there could be further opportunities for people to get involved in the coming weeks. “We will require more volunteers in the future, so stay tuned.”

Achtymichuk helped with securing the funding which came from the Farm Credit Canada AgriSpirit Fund that supports projects in rural communities. This initiative is one she sees as being a long term investment in this rural area. “The main reason for the trees it to provide food security for everyone in the community,” she remarked. “The idea is that anyone in town can pick fruit for their own use.  Our hopes are that sometime in the future, excess fruit will be picked and processed by volunteers, to extend our ability to provide food for those in need, out of season.  This will be another way for our community to look after one another.”

There are further benefits as well. In addition to providing a food source, the orchard will add shade and beauty to the area which Weiterman said will also “enhance the trail walking experience.”

With 150 new trees in the ground and more to come next year, a memorandum of understanding has been reached with the Town whereby the volunteer group will maintain the trees, while the Town will provide regular maintenance of the area, cut the grass and provide weed control as they do now.

If you would like to get involved in helping with this new orchard or with the garden you can contact a member of the Community Garden Executive: Garth Weiterman, Chair; Glenn Annand, Vice-chair; Connie Achtymichuk, Secretary; or Justin Turton, Treasurer.