Community 'food forest' to grow in Sudbury

A not-for-profit group in Greater Sudbury is aiming to plant the community's first food forest.

Sudbury Shared Harvest behind project that has already sprung up elsewhere in Canada

"Food forests," like this one outside of Hay River, N.W.T, are designed to produce food for a community. Sudbury Shared Harvest is in the process of selecting a site for one in Sudbury. (Northern Farm Training Institute)

A not-for-profit group in Greater Sudbury is aiming to plant the community's first food forest.

Food forests are managed plots of land featuring plants that yield food for people to eat, and officials with Sudbury Shared Harvest say they expect to start planting in the spring.

"Instead of what you'd find in a usual forest we would find mainly edible plants," Carrie Regenstreif told CBC News, adding that they're similar to community gardens.

She said Sudbury Shared Harvest would be responsible for the food forest, however volunteers would do most of the work. 

"Volunteers will be participating in the planting and the maintenance and then once it's established, the food will be available to anyone in the community who wants to help themselves."

Food forests typically include things like fruit trees, berries, edible perennials, herbs and medicinal plants.

The organization is still looking for an appropriate space to plant the forest, Regenstreif said, adding that it will be done on municipal property.

Some patience will be key once the plants are put in the ground. It's expected that the first harvest will take several years, Regenstreif said.

"We don't expect there to be much to harvest within the first few years. It's going to take a little while to establish."

Community food forest have been successful in other locations across the country. Regenstreif says an expert from Perth, Ontario will help Sudbury establish their food forest.

Funding for the $40,000 project has already been approved by the province through the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The Sudbury Shared Harvest is a newly formed non-profit group which is connected to Fruit For All and Eat Local Sudbury.

With files from Angela Gemmill

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