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Fri, 19 Mar 2021
The Town of Oakville is partnering with Halton Food and Oakvillegreen to lay the groundwork for a unique initiative that will serve as a pilot project for sustainable gardening in the community.
Beginning this spring, two unique garden spaces - the Oakville Food Forest, managed by Halton Food, and Oakville Pollinator Pathway, led by Oakvillegreen - will take root side by side in an underused former fruit orchard and field within Kingsford Gardens Park. Together they will act to increase the town’s climate resiliency, food security and biodiversity.
“This pilot project is a living example of the town’s commitment to creating a healthier, greener community and will give residents an opportunity to form a greater connection with our natural environment,” said Mayor Rob Burton.
The primary purpose of the Oakville Food Forest is to teach Oakville residents how to care for their own edible shrubs and trees, provide a climate-resilient food source, decrease dependence on imported fruits (and the associated CO2 costs of transportation), and give citizens access to healthy food.
Food forests are sustainable edible food systems comprised of fruit and nut-producing trees and shrubs that, in theory, require no weeding, spraying or digging. Mimicking a true forest, the multiple layers of plant species mean high density, which translates into high productivity and prolonged food supply; much longer than an average vegetable garden. Leaves, flowers and groundcovers are allowed to decompose on site adding to the biomass and eliminating the need for fertilizers. The soil is left undisturbed, allowing for better water absorption and reduced runoff. Plants are encouraged to spread, ensuring little to no bare soil, eliminating the problems of soil erosion and weeds. By the time a food forest becomes established, the soil is teeming with beneficial insects, bacteria and fungi, all of which will help the plants grow and thrive: a true ecological community!
The Oakville Pollinator Pathway will reclaim and naturalize a portion of the grassy area to create a vibrant meadow ecosystem. Native wildflowers and grasses will provide an important attractant, food source and habitat for pollinators like butterflies, moths, bees, birds and other species.
Acting as a neighbourhood hub, the success of the site will be made possible through support from the town and community participation, with volunteers assisting in the planting, tending and ongoing stewardship of the sites. It is hoped the gardens will become an outdoor community learning space for school and youth groups, seniors, multicultural groups and various community partners. A walking path and educational signage through the gardens will welcome visitors to learn about the community benefits of these complimentary projects.
“The town is delighted to support this initiative. Through hands-on community participation, a 400-480 square metre portion of the pre-existing fruit orchard at Kingsford Gardens Park will be revitalized to include a diverse selection of fruit and nut trees and shrubs,” said Chris Mark, director of Parks and Open Space. “We will be monitoring and measuring the success of this unique project to see how we can expand to other areas of Oakville in the future.”
Halton Environmental Network (HEN) strives to make the community of Halton a region with educated citizens, engaged stakeholders and best practice policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental sustainability. Halton Food, a program of HEN, supports and promotes community gardening, urban growing, and environmentally sustainable food systems across Halton Region. Learn more at the Halton Environmental Network and Halton Food websites.
Oakvillegreen is a not-for-profit community organization which strives to make Oakville a living city with enhanced natural diversity and healthier green spaces. We reconnect people to the natural environment in their neighbourhood, increasing awareness of the importance of nature, and moving them to action to protect, enhance and restore Oakville’s natural environment. The Oakville Pollinator Pathway is generously supported by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. Learn more from the Oakvillegreen website.