Since 2009, The City has been planting fruit trees and shrubs in locations around Calgary as part of a community orchard research project in order to increase opportunities for local food production activities.
Community orchard locations
The City currently has four community orchard pilot locations:
Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Garden Orchard - 940 4A St. N.W.
This orchard has been incorporated into an existing park, which already housed a few fruit trees. The fruit planted includes several mature apple trees as well as young cherry bushes, hazelnut bushes, gooseberry bushes, honeyberry bushes, apricot trees and pear trees. This orchard is the first to be completed.
Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association Orchard
This community orchard is tucked in behind the community association building and tennis courts. The site will include mature apple trees as well as other fruit tree and shrub selections. Up to 50 fruiting trees and shrubs will be integrated into the orchard. Planting is currently underway.
Baker Park - 9333 Scenic Bow Rd. N.W. - across the river from Bowness Park
Baker Park Orchard is located at the northwest corner of the park. When complete, this orchard will contain hundreds of trees. A wide variety of species, including mature apple trees, will be planted. This site will be maintained by The City and used for demonstration and education purposes. Planting is currently underway.
Ralph Klein Park - 12350 84 St. S.E.
The orchard at Ralph Klein Park consists of a variety of pear trees that surround the public parking lot of the Environmental Education Centre as well as eight varieties of apple trees at the south end of the parking lot beside the centre.
About the community orchards pilot project
There are two main categories of orchards in this initiative: City run and community-run orchards. Within each of these categories, there are different models, each of which will be evaluated over the duration of the five year pilot project.
The community orchard research project will determine if public and community-run orchards can grow, thrive, and produce in Calgary. The test orchards will be evaluated using indicators such as tree survival, fruit yield, vandalism, disease and pest damage, cost, orchard steward satisfaction, and the community's capacity to manage the orchard. Ongoing evaluation throughout the trial period will be used to determine the viability and productivity of various fruit and nut trees and shrubs. Parks will consider program expansion based on the results of this pilot.
In order for the new orchards to bear fruit in the coming years, they require pollinators. Unfortunately, native honey bee populations have decreased across the continent as a result of parasitic mites, loss of habitat and climatic change. In order to ensure that pollination occurs, The City is introducing mason bees at orchard sites and encouraging homeowners to do the same. The City has set up mason bee houses at orchard sites to increase the colonization of the orchards by mason bees. These boxes will be removed each fall and stored over winter to protect the bees from predators. Boxes will be replaced each spring.
The Community Orchard Research Project was developed in accordance with the ImagineCalgary Plan for long range sustainability by educating Calgarians about the benefits of growing locally and is intended to:
- Encourage local food production.
- Foster community involvement.
- Educate Calgarians about techniques related to fruit tree care as well as methods for preserving and storing fruit.
- Demonstrate and test a range of fruit trees and shrubs.
- Evaluate the success of community orchard models, share results and recommend changes, if required.
Please contact Parks for more information.