The Food Forest
“Forest gardening is a low-maintenance, sustainable, plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans.” – wikipedia
Welcome to the Food Forest in Medicine Hat located behind the Community Health Services 2948 Dunmore Road SE. This is a public forest garden featuring edible and medicinal annual and perennial plants, fruit trees and vines, a rain water harvesting system and a variety of pollinator-friendly species.
Initially this area was part of the Sheldon Miller Community Garden but due to the established trees, these plots were challenging to grow in. Community Food Connections Association, the organization responsible for community gardens in Medicine Hat and area, along with other members of the community decided to see this challenge (the shady-ness) as an opportunity to demonstrate what a perennial food producing space could look like and the Food Forest was born!
Designed by Ron Berezan, aka The Urban Farmer (theurbanfarmer.ca), in May 2015, the dream became a reality as workshops were organized and hosted in the Food Forest on topics ranging from biochar to sheet mulching, fruit tree guilds, edible mushroom cultivation and rain water harvesting. The Medicine Hat 4H Club pitched in along with other talented and generous members of the public to prepare the soil, make paths, spread mulch and plant out the area.
What is a Food Forest?
This is where we explain what a food forest is and isn’t. Coming soon…
Food Forest Etiquette
Knowing how best to engage in this community space helps the food forest to thrive while respecting the work that dedicated volunteers have put in to create and maintain this amazing project.
- Stay on the paths when enjoying the food forest. This helps minimize compaction and benefits the plant roots and microbiome in the soil.
- Harvest some for yourself but leave some for others to enjoy and enough for the plant to continue to grow in a healthy way. We encourage people to harvest responsibly from plants they have positively ID’d in the food forest. Consider that others may also like to harvest from the same plant, and if too much plant material is removed, the plant may suffer and potentially die if it is unable to photosynthesize and feed itself.
- Do not remove entire plants from the food forest. If you see a plant that you’d like to grow in your own garden, consider coming by when it is producing seeds and collect some (not all) for yourself. Some of the plants will be divided/propagated in the spring and we are planning to host a plant sale fundraiser in 2022.
There may be many plants that are new to you, or that maybe you recognize but would normally consider weeds growing in the food forest. We are working on improving our labelling system to ease some of the confusion. Please do not remove plants that you cannot identify as they may be something we like to keep around, and definitely do not harvest/eat anything unless you are 100% sure of what it is. If you’d like help with identification, snap a photo of the plant in question and email it to SEA.Resilient@gmail.com and we will let you know what you are looking at.
Although we are adamant about keeping invasive species out of the food forest, many “weeds” are welcome as they may be edible, medicinal, native species and/or pollinator friendly and not likely to get out of control. To find out more about invasive species, check out The Alberta Invasive Species Council website. Some of the non-invasive “weeds” we keep include lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album), portulaca (Portulaca oleracea) , and dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), to name a few.
We love self-seeding annual plants, like red orach (Atriplex hortensis), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), wild pansy (Viola tricolor), and herbs (like cilantro and parsley).
This is where we share a list of plants that can be found in the food forest, their uses, how/when to harvest and links to find out more information. More to come soon…
Starting mid-June of 2021, we started having work bees every other Saturday between 10am and 12pm. Come on by to help with planting, weeding, moving, cleaning and brainstorming! Bring your own clean garden tools (trowel, dandelion fork, pruners, etc) along with appropriate footgear, gloves (if you like), water and a snack. Check out the community calendar to find out when the next work bee will be! Feel free to email SEA.Resilient@gmail.com if you have questions or want to be added to our mailing list.
Frequently Asked Questions