The city’s urban fruit orchard is poised to expand steadily over the next eight years with new plantings planned for city parks.
The city has created new orchards in three city parks in just the past couple of years — Falaise, Gaston and Slocan — with the Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute and a handful of neighbourhood partners. Its goal is to create at least seven more orchards by 2020 as part of the Greenest City Action Plan.
Although the city doesn’t have a complete inventory of fruit and nut trees in parks, the figure is believed to be around 425. The city’s inventory lists more than 600 fruit and nut trees on boulevards.
The biggest opportunity to expand the number of fruit and nut trees in the Vancouver is the city’s street tree planting program, which council has instructed to plant 150,000 trees to complement the 139,000 trees already lining Vancouver streets. But the city is hesitant to plant any more fruit and nut trees on the boulevards because trees that are not carefully maintained can create a tripping hazard on sidewalks and rotting fruit attracts vermin and wasps, according to Alan Duncan, environmental planner for the park board.
Planting fruit trees on the city’s boulevards would make sense for the city from a policy point of view as it satisfies the twin goals of increasing the number of street trees in the city and increasing food assets under Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, said Anthony Nicalo of FoodTree, a web- and mobile app-based local food sourcing system.
FoodTree has created an online map of the more than 600 fruit and nut trees already planted on streets and boulevards across Vancouver, which allows people to search for their favourite fruits in season and where they can be picked for free.
Nicalo said planting trees is just a first step toward creating a “food asset,” an accessible and sustainable food source for Vancouverites. Fruit trees need care, fruit needs to be picked and either eaten or processed.
“People need to adopt and care for fruit-bearing street trees,” he said.