NESS CREEK FOREST GARDEN
Our forest garden at Ness Creek started as a seed of vision in 2011. At this demonstration & education site in the north-central Saskatchewan at the Ness Creek site, we are exploring how we can implement the permaculture ‘forest garden’ model in our extreme cold climate to build a regenerative, cultivated ecosystem. Our garden has grown to a mid-level of succession as the fruit trees & berry bushes begin to take true shape amongst an ever increasing diversity of perennial herbs, vegetables, & medicinal plants. In 2018, we rebuilt our henhouse & expanded our chicken coop, planted close to a dozen new fruiting trees & shrubs, and added Ness Creek’s first ever beehive to our permaculture system.
OUR VISIONARY OBJECTIVES ARE :
- To increase local food security by reducing our dependance on the industrial food system.
- To increase biodiversity & restore ecological vibrancy to what was once a degraded site
- To reduce our contribution to climate change through limiting our need for carbon-based inputs over time
- To build a living soil that is the foundation for ecosystem & human health
- To create northern climate, hardy-stock nursery for sharing plant resources with other gardens
- To provide a model to educate & inspire others to take real steps towards food forest creation
WHAT IS A FOREST GARDEN?
Forest Gardening is an organic food production method based on the patterns and relationships found in a woodland ecosystem. Within this style of gardening, we seek to replicate the complexity and stability of such an ecosystem while using plant species most useful to humans. It incorporates fruit trees, shrubs, medicinal herbs, vines, and perennial vegetables, all of which yield foods and medicine valuable to humans while increasing biodiversity and building healthy soil. Perennials are intermixed with companion plants to grow in a succession to replicate the layers of a forest. Over time, this type of gardening leads to increased yields while requiring decreased amounts of labour and resources. Over the next twenty years and more, this garden will continue to grow successionally to maturity during which time we will be able to harvest abundant fruit, berries, vegetables, medicines, and other products. It is time to re-learn how use nature as a model for design solutions that create sustainable human settlement. This is a space for experimenting with how to practically apply permaculture principles and techniques in our lives and community.
With over a 1 / 3 acre now planted to perennial fruit trees & herbs, we are working to expand our garden by another 1 /3 of an acre to include a large row plot garden to supply annual vegetables to our year-round local community & festival & event volunteers. We are also working to winterize our three-season, carbon-neutral walipini greenhouse, & create a large naturalized water catchment pond to store water for irrigation off the Jack Millikin Centre roof.
Education has always been at the centre of our vision for this garden. Each year, hundreds of event-goers of all ages and backgrounds get a chance to be introduced to the permaculture forest gardening model. We also regularly host school groups from neighbouring communities and public workshops to share what we are learning as we develop this space.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Forest Garden
The Forest Garden truly is a community garden; without the combined effort of many visionary volunteers,
community supporters, & financial contributors, the garden would simply not be where it is today.