Hamilton Crescent Community Garden delves into berries, fruits

Transition Cornwall+ member Bill Carriere, right, helps Roushan Ahmed, 10, plant rhubarb Oct. 1, 2015 at the Hamilton Crescent Community Garden. A pilot project, funded in part by Tree Canada, will see more berry shrubs and fruit trees planted in Cornwall community gardens if this one is successful next year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A gardening cooperative in one of the city’s social housing complexes is branching into new territory – fruits and berries.

All Things Food coordinator Kat Rendek oversaw a team of volunteers, along with children, Thursday, planting new varieties of fruit trees and berry bushes in the Hamilton Crescent Community Garden.

It’s a first in Cornwall as community gardens have grown vegetables and annuals.

“We were already working here with the community garden so we thought this would be a great addition, learning about perennial gardens and different fruit trees and the community really responded so we’re here today planting those,” Rendek said.

The “edible fruit forest” is comprised of 50 rhubarb, current, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and asparagus plants. They will be harvested next year. Two apple trees are also being planted on the property on Hamilton Crescent.

There is also plans to plant 100 bulbs of garlic.

The species have been chosen to ripen sequentially so a lot of fruit doesn’t ripen at once (rhubarb in the spring and apples in the fall, for example).

Around 70 families are active in the garden and roughly 140 neighbourhood children benefit as well, Rendek explained.

This perennial planning is a pilot project and, if successful, will be expanded to other community gardens in Cornwall.

While the vegetable gardens are done on a plot base, where families register for a plot, Rendek believes the fruit will be completely shared. “Families will be welcome to take a stalk of rhubarb as they want it or the kids can harvest raspberries as they ripen,” she said.

Rendek said children’s programming is run through the summer, in coordination with the community garden, to teach them valuable food skills. “The entire thing is really about developing food skills and sustainability of our food system locally.”

The trees and shrubs were partially paid for by Tree Canada, a not-for-profit charity that works on sustainable urban and rural forests.

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