Janice & Morrison are turning their food forest dreams into reality, sharing their progress from the very beginning. Join us from design to installation and beyond!
We took the plunge! We are on our way to an edible food forest in Surrey, BC.
Just a bit of background...my relatives have always been avid and successful gardeners. I, unfortunately, did not inherit that gene. My thumb isn’t brown, it’s actually black. There isn’t an “easy to care for, strictly for beginners” plant I haven’t killed. Sometimes they die so fast, they are still green. But I have always fantasized about being a gardener. And with my first townhouse 11 years ago, I finally had a small plot of land to start experimenting. (Great trees, too much shade!) I had a big tree in my postage stamp sized front yard that was overgrown with weeds. On my first weekend, I got out there and started weeding. One of my new neighbours approached me from across the cul de sac and asked me, “How long have you been gardening?” Surprised by the question, I responded “About 20 minutes so far.”
I got married 4 years ago, and it was my husband who introduced me to the concept of permaculture. The philosophy, as well as the process of permaculture design, really spoke to me, and I have been reading everything I could get my hands on ever since.
Then last year, we moved to a house together with my mom. The yard was not only huge, with lots of areas for sun and for shade, but we also have a creek running behind our place through the property. It was as close to perfection as we could have wanted and still be in the city.
So for my birthday, I wanted to find a company experienced in designing and installing edible landscapes. There are not many, and I didn’t find any in the lower mainland. But I found Edible Landscapes Design on the island, and from my first phone inquiry with Joshua, I knew these were the people to help us.
Because I wanted a short cut. I understood the basics of permaculture, but I didn’t want to spend a couple years learning we were choosing the wrong plants or putting them in the wrong places. I wanted someone to listen to what everyone in the family was hoping for, and then give us a roadmap. The interview process was pretty deep, but helpful and meaningful. And since patience is not my strong suit and it was summer, I kept pestering Joshua for tasks we could be doing now, right now…any time now. I know how long things take to grow and I didn’t want to waste any time.
That’s how we got our first marching orders, to sheet mulch the entire yard (about 10,000 square feet). So I spent the next several months doing two things; finding and collecting appliance boxes and getting used coffee grounds. As I brought them home, my husband would layer them on the yard. Thankfully we were able to get woodchips delivered, and he schlepped all of that over the creek and onto the largest part of the yard. By early spring we had covered over 10,000 square feet in cardboard, coffee and woodchips…one layer.
About a month ago, we got our landscape plan and it exceeded every expectation we had. It took us a couple of weeks just to absorb the information, look up various plant selections, and try to visualize in 3D how this would transform our space. I’m glad we took the time, because we noticed and tweaked a couple things (we know and like pears and have never had a Paw Paw so we went with 4 pears and 2 Paw Paws instead of the reverse).
So then we had to begin sourcing. Morrison was in charge of finding the bulk mushroom manure and other amendments, I was in charge of sourcing the plants. That was not nearly as easy as I thought it was going to be. I’ll tell you more about that next installment!