The Other New Food Forest

Besides the new community food forest that is being planted at the Just Food farm (near the big red barn, so affectionately called the redbarn forest), we have established a new food forest at the IBM lab on Riverside Drive (so its nickname is the riverside forest).

What is a food forest? What is the IBM Food Forest at Riverside?
A food forest is a gardening technique or land management system which mimics a woodland ecosystem by incorporating edible trees, shrubs, perennial and annual plants, as well as mushrooms. The establishment of a food forest is iterative and while the fruit and nut trees take a while to reach maturity and bear fruit, we plant annual vegetables in the spaces between them to have some food to harvest in the first years. Harvests from the Riverside Food Forest on the IBM campus will be donated to the Ottawa Food Bank as part of their Grow a Row, Donate a Row program. The output this year will be mainly the root crops growing on site, potatoes and carrots, as the approximately 50 fruit bushes and trees that we have planted will take a few years to be fully productive.

Who is involved?
We have started this project as a really grassroots effort operating on a shoestring. There are many people to thank for what has already been accomplished, too many to thank individually in fact. Thanks to the team of over 40 IBM employees who have volunteered (doing variety of tasks from clearing dead shrubs to moving wheelbarrows of soil, to planting so many trees, vegetables and pollinator-friendly perennials). A large group of enthusiastic children who attended the IGNITE camp have also helped out, they built mushroom beds (which will not only yield crops of mushrooms, but are a favourite food for pollinators, bees love to eat the mycelium, as a medicine to build their immune systems, see for details).

A group of local Ottawa food forest enthusiasts donated trees and plants to the effort. Clintar, the landscaping company that holds a service contract with IBM has generously donated time and equipment over and above their contract to help truck some donated mulch to the site and they will be helping out on our weekend planting day on August 26th. Local businesses, Cedar Recycles and Hummingbird Chocolate have donated mulch (and the husks from the cacao beans smell soooo chocolate-y good!).

What next?
The employee volunteers are the IBM Food Forestry club, and there is much left to do. All IBM employees are welcome to join the IBM food forestry club! Though there is on-going work that can be done in spurts during the weekdays, we will have a bigger work day on Saturday, August 26th, to move the remaining soil and mulch (Clintar will bring some equipment to help move the heavy stuff), and to plant some more trees and to build mushroom logs. There will be a late fall planting day as well, sometime in late October to plant some dormant nut trees (hazelnuts and pines) also.

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