Conservation project aims at food sustainability
The Galiano Conservancy Association is about to plant a food and medicinal forest with the hope that members can harvest both food and knowledge from the project.
Some of the seed money for the project, the Galiano Community Food Forest, comes from the Victoria Foundation.
The project addresses a pressing need for greater food security and environmental sustainability — and could inspire an alternative to conventional agriculture, according to Eric Jacobsen, education co-ordinator for the nonprofit society.
The project sees the creation of a permaculture food and medicinal forest on a plot of land on the association’s 76-hectare property. The forest will be locally adapted and sustainable, and, when mature, minimize inputs of labour, water and nutrients required to produce nutrient-dense food.
“It is a conservation project not just about protecting the ecosystem, but addresses food sustainability on a regional level,” said Jacobsen.
Forest gardens are not new, with evidence of human agricul- tural activity in the Amazon rainforest dating back hundreds of years.
Unlike conventional agricultural models, with only one crop in vast fields, the forest garden features a multitude of plants chosen to both support one another and to create a microclimate. “We are hoping to create a multi-level garden that is resistant to climate change,” said Jacobsen.
Members of the conservancy will also bury logs to act as large carbon sinks as they rot. The decomposing wood becomes more porous, serving as reservoirs for moisture in the dry months. The moisture is needed, as the project includes seeding the forest floor with mushrooms and other beneficial fungi.
Rotting vegetation and leaves will be tilled back into the ground to serve as natural nutrients for the below-ground root networks.
Other plants planned include different types of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and vines growing on trees.
“We want to be the facilitators for change,” said Jacobsen.
“The plan is to make available what we learn, so people can replicate the model from small gardens to multiple acres.”
The demonstration garden, located under a cliff at the association’s Learning Centre, will operate as a social enterprise and be a living model, providing an important hands-on educational resource for the community and region.
Formed in 1989, the Galiano Conservancy Association was one of the first land trusts formed in British Columbia. It is a community-based organization with a mission to preserve, protect and enhance the quality of human and rural environment on Galiano Island.
The association is presenting a two-day Permaculture Food Forest Workshop, Oct. 24 and 25 at the organization’s Learning Centre, 2540 Sturdies Bay Rd., Galiano Island.
Lili Paulin-Kuroda, 11, checks out what’s growing at the Galiano Community Food Forest.