Edible trees and shrubs have aesthetic value, but they also provide people and animals with fruit, nuts, and berries. Many cities have community gardens and are incorporating edible trees into their urban planning. Edible trees and community gardens are a major source of food for food banks, and other organizations that help feed hungry families. Through mapping programs, there are many ways to find edible trees in your neighbourhood. There are many organizations that promote the planting of edible trees and offer grants so you can plant your own edible tree.
Cities, UFMPs, and Universities including edible trees into their planning
Many cities have edible trees and shrubs incorporated into their urban plans, providing food, shade, and other health benefits for citizens. The City of Victoria, British Colombia, includes food production in their Urban Forest Master Plan, saying that they want to increase the number of edible trees on public property and parks. People would then be able to freely enjoy the fruit from those trees. The City has already started planting nut trees in public spaces, and has allowed some residents to plant personal gardens along the public boulevards of their homes. Ottawa based Just Food, and the University of Ottawa led the research for an Ottawa Food Action Plan. The plan mentions that the community and the City of Ottawa would greatly benefit from the integration of edible trees into city planning. The plan recommends that the City of Ottawa include more edible greening projects for city property. Some universities are also including edible trees into their campus planning. The University of McGill in Montreal, Québec, has an “edible campus”. By planting edible trees, and a community garden on their campus, the University is able to donate the produce to a food bank.
Organizations & Falling Fruit Mapping
There are many organizations that benefit from urban edible trees. Food banks rely heavily on the produce of edible trees to feed the hungry. The Ottawa Food Bank, along with Hidden Harvest Ottawa, and Cisco has launched a program called Trees to Tables. The program aims to fight hunger in the City of Ottawa, Ontario by gathering the fruit of municipally owned trees, and giving it to those in need. The fruit is picked throughout the City of Ottawa by volunteers, where it is then shared amongst volunteers and food banks in the city. There are many organizations that are dedicated to harvesting food from urban trees that would otherwise go to waste. Ottawa based Hidden Harvest, and Toronto based Not Far from the Tree, are two examples of organizations that send out groups of volunteers to harvest food from the edible urban forest. These organizations share the produce with food banks, the volunteers, and sometimes restaurants. These organizations sometimes have the help of Falling Fruit, a United States non-profit which helps communities map the edible trees of their neighbourhood. The City of Vancouver, British Colombia has a Falling Fruit map where one can see the fruit trees in their neighbourhood. This allows people to easily harvest them and makes it simpler for organizers to plan harvesting events. In the City of Calgary, Alberta the environmental planner, Adrian Buckley noticed a lot of rotting fruit on his commute to work. He started mapping public and privately own edible trees in his neighbourhood, which he then used to organize a harvesting event. He hopes to expand the project to include a map of all the edible trees in the City of Calgary.
Tree Canada and the Edible Tree program
Many cities do not have a lot of edible trees on public property, opting instead for ornamental shrubs and trees; Tree Canada is trying to change that. In 2012, Tree Canada launched their Edible Trees program, a program designed to promote the planting of edible trees in communities. Municipalities, schools, and community gardens can apply for edible tree grants, which enable them to plant fruit and nut trees in their neighbourhoods. With up to $4,000 available in grants, Tree Canada gives money to 20 communities across Canada to help plant more edible trees.
Edible trees provide shade, food for humans and animals, aesthetic value, and many other benefits to your community. Edible trees help feed the hungry by providing fresh produce to food banks. There are many people dedicated to harvesting and planting edible trees, and some cities and universities are doing their part to plant edible trees to help the needy. While most cities do not include edible trees in their urban planning, hopefully they will soon realize the growing trend of eating as locally as possible; even fruit from your neighbourhood park.
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