Vernon Edible Gardens

In the Fall of 2019, Vernon Permaculture received a Sustainability Grant from the City of Vernon to install two examples of miniature “food forests”, one at City Hall and the other next to the Okanagan Science Centre. A food forest aims to mimic the 7 layers of a natural forest with a mix of edible plants and support plants. The focus was on soil building in the first year, knowing it takes some time for this type of system to mature and be productive. We planted lupin, orach, strawberries, peas, kale, apricot tree, almond tree, elderberry, sunflowers, lettuce, raspberries and more! We leave the plants to die back in the winter, which means anyone can go and harvest seed for their own gardens from these sites.

With the help of some volunteers, we brought in compost, soil, straw, mycorrhizae and plants and installed just before the pandemic hit. These sites offer free food to anyone wandering by. You can see here some chives growing in the early stages at the Polson Park location.

Summer 2021 brought an intense heatwave followed by wildfires that our project leads had to flee from and although these sites had no irrigation, many of the plants miraculously survived! This is a testament to utilizing solid strategies guided by nature and using biodiverse plantings and a nice thick layer of straw mulch and initial deep watering.

Here you can see the smoky skies at the City Hall site in the Fall of 2021, which had 2 healthy apricot trees and an almond tree that have had to be moved as we need to find a new site. This style of landscaping is a bit different than conventional and manicured City gardens and requires more public education as to the value of things like straw as mulch and leaving “dead” plants to feed birds and reseed themselves. When we are looking for solutions to the climate crisis, they are not going to look like “business as usual”.

As we search for a new location, we’d love to hear from you if you had any experience with or harvested any food from these areas. The idea was also to have residents harvest seed for their own gardens from this site. Better signage to explain the strategy here is needed. These types of environmental/soil building/food security projects fit right into the Climate Action Plan that was adopted by Council in April of 2021.

The V.E.G. site at the Science Centre/Polson Park will stay and as it grows you’ll be able to more clearly make out the Paw Paws (a fruit which is like half-banana, half mango), the mulberry and all that lovely red colour you see is orach, a spinach-like plant that is not only edible, but looks gorgeous growing. We did offer a few tours of these sites to explain them to the public, and would love to do more of this in 2022. Please email info@lekkerlanddesign.ca to get involved and/or follow the Vernon Permaculture group on Facebook or reach out to Project Lead Erik Tamez-Hrabovsky at mikass347@gmail.com.

For the 3rd VEG space, we planted with Academy of Inquiry & Adventure Okanagan near BX elementary, we have a heartnut walnut, 2 hazelnuts, a peach, a Japanese raisin, and a Hican (pecan/hickory cross)

Thanks for your interest in the Vernon Edible Gardens (V.E.G.)! More to come from Erik & and Keli (pictured here on installation day with Dan) Find out more about Vernon Permaculture when we meet at the Vernon Library (in person when allowed) on the last Wednesday of each month at 7pm.

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