Thursday, 16 May 2013

Emery Collegiate Garden: From Grass to Garden to Food Forest

Last season was another productive year at the Emery CI garden. While the site has its challenges with an invasive species of grass called Quack Grass, we still produced amazingly delicious organic food from this piece of land.

Passersby, teachers, and onlookers would often comment "There's food growing in there?" because it looked like a grassy prairie from the outside.

But when you entered through the gate, you got to see the food that was growing there: beautiful and colourful cherry tomatoes, peppers, okra, beans, edible flowers and more!

2012 Highlights at Emery CI: 

We planted over 200 native pollinator plants in the garden!

Collaborative field trips and tours with Green Thumbs Growing Kids. Youth working with both GTGK and PACT GTL got to tour and help out at each others' gardens and see what different urban school yard gardens look like!

We held our 2nd Annual Harvest Party in collaboration with the school's Gay Straight Alliance, where over 300 lbs of fresh food harvested that morning was given out to students, and teachers (by donation). The funds raised will go towards the planned food forest project.

This year we are starting to transition the Emery Garden into a food forest space. The goal will be to plant perennial food bearing plants, including fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and flowers in formations called Guilds.

Guilds are groupings of plants that grow well together and often benefit each other in various ways. An example is an apple tree, surrounded by perennial herbs and legumes.


But before we can begin to plant next year, we are thinking ahead to what we have to do to prepare the site. The PACT GTL team had a workday where we decreased the size of the garden by bringing the fence in. It now feels more manageable. We hope to include the school community as much as possible in the re-design of this space.

Secondly, we covered a large area of the garden with a huge tarp! This will help to smother and kill the invasive grass over the course of the summer.

Sweet Cherry Tree and Chives at Emery CI
We'll continue to tend to the space over the season, and students from Emery are keen on watering the 2 cherry trees we planted last fall. It's exciting to think about the amazing possibilities for this space!


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