Curbside food garden to demonstrate potential of community centre green space

The Fernwood Community Centre (FCC) will soon go through another food inspired transformation, this time with its very own kitchen garden. The proposed pilot project will convert the currently under-utilized front garden along Gladstone Avenue into a food producing space, to be utilized by the FCC kitchen.

Kitchen gardens are traditionally the growing space closest to the house where perennial herbs, vegetables, and fruit are planted alongside annual vegetables. Many cultures have variations on the kitchen garden design, some following repeating geometric patterns (such as the traditional European potager gardens), while others are more free form.

Within permaculture design, the kitchen garden is known as zone one. This is the area right outside the dwelling; it’s the zone you walk past every day. Zone one is where attention-loving plants live (the ones that need more water or protection), and where you harvest from every day. The building walls hold onto heat, and the roof overhang can provide shelter from the hot summer sun, wind, or rain, making for a perfect microclimate to grow heat loving plants. The rainwater from the eavestroughs can be utilized in rain gardens and passive irrigation.

The FCC Kitchen Garden will be a place to demonstrate a variety of zone one ideas, while at the same time supplying nutritious produce to the many food programs held at the community centre. Although the area is fairly small (856 square feet), the south facing wall and large overhang will provide a unique growing space. The plan is to grow species that can be used to flavour soups, add garnish to meals, make teas, and supply some produce to the kitchen. It will be a demonstration garden with a variety of unique plants highlighting the edible potential of urban microclimates.

A mixture of perennial and annual food crops will be included within the garden. Two large raised beds will provide space to grow annuals, from salad mixes to tomatoes, while the other growing areas will have perennial vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Support species, such as comfrey – a dynamic accumulator (soil builder), and yarrow – an insectary plant (beneficial insect attractor), will be added in amongst the garden, to create a thriving ecosystem.

In designing permaculture gardens, it’s best to ensure that the species selected can perform at least three functions. For example, red clover has medicinal qualities, is a nitrogen fixer (fertilizes the soil), and an insectary species. That’s three ­functions, one plant! Check out the species list to the right to see what will be going into the new garden!

The project implementation will happen over the next few months. If you would like to be part of the process, sign up for both or either of the two permablitzes taking place on February 23rd, 2014* from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and March 2nd, 2014 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Permablitzes are daylong work parties where you gain hands-on ­experience of applied permaculture design, meet likeminded people, and are part of fantastic projects like this one!

Contact hatchetnseed@gmail.com to reserve your spot (limited to 25 people per blitz). If you have pruners, shovels, gloves, and/or wheelbarrows, bring them along. For more info about these and other permablitzes check out svipermablitz.com.

Visit fernwoodnrg.ca for updates on this project.

 

*Our first permablitz for this project is postponed from Sunday, February 9th to Sunday, February 23rd due to weather conditions. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/snowstorm-could-wallop-b-c-on-family-day-long-weekend-1.2525068

 

Kitchen Garden Plant List

Perennials (Fruits)

Raspberries, strawberries, grapes, lemons, peach/apricot, Chilean guava

Perennials (Herbaceous)

Chives, lovage, oregano, thyme, yarrow, comfrey, echinacea, bay laurel, oca, leaf celery, rhubarb, clover, Egyptian walking onions, Welsh onions

Annuals

Beans, peas, lettuce, chard, kale, parsley, calendula, nasturtiums, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, borage

(Not a complete list)

Pictured above:
Alysha Punnett (left) of the Compost Education Centre, and Solara Goldwynn (right) of Hatchet & Seed Contracting, are ready to host two permablitzes to install the Fernwood Community Centre Kitchen Garden. Photo: Mila Czemerys