Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Edible Native Plant Workshop with The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project

On Sunday I hopped on the bus to Chinatown and enjoyed a beautiful bowl of udon soup with chicken and watercress at Harvest as the fall sun streamed in the windows. Then I walked to the Strathona Community Centre and attended a fantastic workshop on edible native plants with Nadine from The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project. Nadine is a botanist with a passion for native plants. She even grows them in pots on her balcony in Vancouver. The impressive list of plants Nadine grows include Mahonia nervosa, licorice fern, Saskatoon berry, Canadian mint, red flowering currant, vine maple, red huckleberry, evergreen huckleberry, chives, coastal strawberry, kinnikinnik and Labrador tea. Only one part of her balcony gets full sun for a few hours each day which is where she places the currant, strawberries, Saskatoons and herbs. Everything else survives in full to partial shade. "I'm a guerilla gardener," Nadine proclaims. "I figure if something was meant to stay with me it will survive."

 The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project helps people pick the fruit from trees on their property. The owner decides how much fruit they want to keep and any excess is donated to one of a dozen organizations who distribute it to people who need a healthy boost in their diet. (The social service organizations include Aids Vancouver, Steve's Manor, and the DTES Women's Shelter.) This summer the organization picked 5000 lbs of fruits which may otherwise have gone to waste. Over the years they have picked over 40 000 lbs of fruit in this city.

The proceeds from this workshop help fund the VFTP and the organization will soon be offering a low cost pruning service, which will operate on a profit-sharing model. There is an apple and pear pruning workshop coming up on Saturday November 16 from 10 am to 12 pm. Details on eventbrite.

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