© Guardian photo by Sally Cole
Adam MacLean, garden project co-ordinator, shows a currant bush and an apple tree that were recently planted in the community orchard at the Charlottetown Experimental Farm. It’s part of the Legacy Garden, a P.E.I. 2014 project underway behind the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.
A new orchard has been planted in a section of the Charlottetown Experimental Farm.
And, while the growers won’t get to see the fruits of their labours for a while, there’s a great deal of excitement as school children watch the tiny trees take root in the red furrows behind the Charlottetown Farm Centre.
“People have a genuine interest in apples so it’s a great chance for them to see how they are grown,” says commercial grower Mike Beamish, who, along with Kevin Garvey and Mark Ashley, provided expertise to the community orchard endeavor.
It’s part of the Legacy Garden, a P.E.I. 2014 project undertaken by the Farm Centre Association and its partners to revitalize a section of the CEF.
“This celebratory and educational landscape will feature community gardens, orchards, and demonstration/research activities,” states a news release.
And, at last count, progress is being made.
Last week, 110 fruit trees were planted under the supervision of Adam MacLean.
“We used mix of disease-resistant apple, peach and Asian pear trees. We also planted plums, cherry plum hybrids and plum apricot hybrids. And because it’s a diverse planting orchard, we’ve added berry bushes, in the understory of the trees,” says MacLean, garden project coordinator.
The biggest challenge? Deciding on the right saplings for the project.
“We’re working with a range of species. Certainly not every tree will produce every year. But by going for diversity we’re sure to have something going into the community every year.”
Also, to realize the goal of the project, overall organic production, committee members selected trees that were scab resistant and disease resistant.
“So we’re choosing good genetics that help with that.”
Because it’s an experimental farm, emphasis is on education not commercial production.
“There’s not a livelihood depending on the success of these trees.”
Once the trees start to grow, it will be up to the bees to do their job.
“Typically a smaller orchard of this size wouldn’t have much problem attracting pollinators, especially in an urban environment.”
Luckily there’s a fairly healthy bee population in Charlottetown.
“So we are planting a range of pollen sources to feed them throughout the year, starting with willow and looking at wildflower plantings in the orchard and surrounding the orchard to keep the populations strong.”
MacLean is appreciative of the support he’s received from committee members.
“I’m no orcharding expert. I rely on those with more expertise like Mike Beamish, Kevin Garvey and Mark Ashley. These successful, established commercial orchardists are some of the many people who helped out as I designed this space.”