Earlier this year, a community-led organization called the Wolseley Community Garden Committee (WCGC) was overjoyed to find out that they had been awarded a Tree Canada Edible Trees grant to fund the second phase of its Vimy Victory Garden.
Located in the heart of Winnipeg’s Wolseley neighbourhood, the group’s mission is to create, maintain, and protect inclusive organic sustainable food gardens and orchards for the enjoyment of diverse community residents, which are designed to enhance both food security and the environment.
With the support of Tree Canada’s Edible Trees grant program and project sponsor, IKEA, the WCGC was able to establish a micro-orchard consisting of fruit trees and shrubs.
Last year, the WCGC planted 20 garden allotment beds, two community beds and a native perennial pollinator garden as part of the first phase of the Vimy Victory Garden.
The phase two planting took place on June 4th at Vimy Ridge Memorial Park, where community and IKEA volunteers got their hands dirty and planted 49 large trees and shrubs, including Gemini Apple trees (Malus x ‘Jefcoutts’), Evans cherry trees (Prunus cerasus ‘Evans’) and Pembina Plum trees (Prunus ‘Pembina’).
“Our community gardens and orchard are located in a public park and it’s incredible to see how excited people are when they visit, especially local families with kids,” says Erna Buffie, founding member of the WCGC. “Our group has always seen this project as a way to create a community hub that benefits not only the twenty-plus gardeners that plant and tend to the allotments, community beds and fruit trees, but also the community as a whole.”
“Our mandate has always been aimed at environmental improvement and food security and part of that is community education,” says Buffie.
The micro-orchard will become a living outdoor classroom where community members can learn about everything from fruit tree establishment and care, to grafting, making apple cider and urban biodiversity.
“At IKEA we want to have a positive impact on the communities where we do business and we know that projects like the one in the Wolseley community will make a substantial difference,” said Melissa Barbosa, Country Sustainability Manager, IKEA Canada. “Opportunities like these reaffirm our commitment to continuing to create a better everyday life for the many people living in these communities.”
The orchard may not start producing a substantial amount of fruit for a few years. Still, Buffie says, once it does, they “plan to engage the community in the harvest and create workshops that provide information on how the fruit can be stored, processed and utilized.”
Since 2012, Tree Canada’s Edible Trees program has completed over 220 projects and planted over 19,000 fruit and nut trees in communities across Canada. Municipalities, schools, and community gardens can apply for edible tree grants to help plant fruit and nut trees and shrubs in their neighbourhoods.