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Community orchards - FAQ

Community Orchard in Hillhurst/Sunnyside
  1. What is a community orchard?
  2. What types of shrubs and trees are planted in the pilot orchards?
  3. How do I get a community orchard near me?
  4. What is an orchard steward?
  5. What is the difference between a community garden and a community orchard?
  6. What is an orchard model?

What is a community orchard?
A community orchard is a piece of land planted with edible fruit and nut trees that is managed through community stewardship and used by the community.

What types of shrubs and trees are planted in the pilot orchards?
Below are the species of fruit trees and shrubs being planted in the orchards. Click on the photo to view the species' approximate, anticipated dimensions and yields.

How do I get a community orchard near me?
The existing community orchard test sites were selected to determine the feasibility of growing fruit and nut trees in Calgary's climate. Interested individuals should contact their community association to gauge community interest. Resources such as the Calgary Horticultural Society and local garden centres can provide information about possible varieties of fruit and nut trees that may be productive in our climate.

What is an orchard steward?
An orchard steward is someone who takes an active role in caring for and maintaining an orchard. This stewardship is a shared responsibility between Calgarians and The City. Through the stewards' commitment, we will ensure the long term health and sustainability of these new community spaces. Some of the tasks that these stewards undertake include:

  • Pruning
  • Monitoring plant health
  • Harvesting fruit

Building community support and involving the public directly is important for ensuring the success and longevity of this project. We are working with community stewards to give them the tools and support to look after the fruit trees and shrubs so the orchards produce food for the community.

What is the difference between a community garden and a community orchard?
Both a community garden and a community orchard are involved with growing food, but there are some differences:

  • Community orchards consist of perennials, which are plants that last a long time, decades and possibly centuries. Community gardens typically consist of annuals, which are plants with much shorter lifecycles.
  • Community orchards are entirely owned and operated by The City, with community support, whereas community gardens are managed and operated primarily by the community with support from The City where required. The City does own the land where community gardens are planted, however City involvement is not as extensive as with community orchards.
  • Community gardens are comprised of a wider variety of plants including fruits, vegetables and flowers. Orchards consist strictly of fruit and nut trees.
  • Gardens are more flexible in design and plant material, while orchards have a more structured/rigid design.
  • Orchards take longer to establish than community gardens.

What is an orchard model?
As part of the community orchard pilot project, we are testing several orchard models.

  1. Community orchards attached to community gardens:
    In this model, community orchards are geographically located near community gardens. The community garden participants care for the orchard and decide who has access to the fruit, as well as how the fruit is distributed and allocated.
  2. Community orchards in public parks:
    Community run orchards located in public parks are accessible to the general public. Maintenance and care of this type of orchard is the responsibility of community orchard stewards. With this model, the distribution of fruit does not reside with the community that cares for this orchard.
  3. Regional orchard:
    The regional orchard is a unique model, its focus is education and testing. It is not as closely integrated into the community as the other models. The City is the primary steward of this type of orchard; undertaking maintenance, controlling access and running educational programs in this space. This orchard is more broadly accessible and is geographically much larger than the other models. Orchard trees are densely arranged and a wide variety of species are tested here. A portion of the harvest will be used for public workshops.
  4. Fruit trees planted along pedestrian routes:
    Trees are planted along pedestrian routes where there is space on public land. The fruit is available to everyone and easily accessible to passers-by. These trees are planted and maintained by The City.
  5. Private residential fruit trees:
    The City encourages Calgarians to grow fruit trees in their own backyards. Educational programs support residents in maintaining their own fruit trees and making the most of the harvest. In this model, residents are responsible for obtaining, planting, maintaining harvesting and enjoying their fruit trees.

For more information on community orchards, please contact Parks.