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Urban Public Orchard in Calgary, Alberta, August and again under snow

Beautiful gala apples growing in a community public orchard in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, August 2010.Urban public orchards -- orchards planted and maintained by city governments with fruit harvest available to the surrounding community -- are not uncommon in the UK and Europe. They are often adjacent to, or integrated into community gardens.

When I found out about a pilot project by the City of Calgary for three public orchards, I made a point of going there before frost, which means getting there in before the end of August. (Calgary is located at 51° 2′ 42″ N, 114° 3′ 26″ W; it's close to the Rocky Mountains, and you can get frost pretty much anytime from September on.)

This particular orchard is minutes from the downtown skyscrapers of corporate Calgary. It's at the end of a residential street and it backs onto a steep slope. It's also adjacent to a great community garden site, the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Garden.

A bike path runs along the side of the community garden and orchard through this residential neighbourhood.

The steep slope helps with air movement to keep winter's chill off as well as pests.

Yes, you can grow pears in Canadian cities.Here's the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Garden, Aug, 2010.

High-production in a short growing season. That's the Canadian food-gardening way.

New fruit tree seedlings integrated into a "typical" residential neighbourhood park in Calgary, Alberta.

Last week, I had to make a trip to Calgary, and it occurred to me that it would be interesting to take (and post) photos of this same public orchard in the winter. For people who don't live in the north, these dramatic seasonal swings are mind-boggling, I know. But yes, orchards do tolerate winter, and whatever winterkill that happens will need to be removed in the spring, but here's what the same orchard looks like just four months later. It won't thaw and burst back to life until May.

Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Public Orchard, Dec 2010, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

At least in winter, we can appreciate the bird nests in nearby trees.

Same perspective as a photo I took in Aug.The community garden, at rest. Dec 2010, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Here's a video of this orchard's ground-breaking celebration. Please let me know if you come across any community / public orchards of note. I'm looking for a couple more for my book.

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Reader Comments (2)

The pictures look so tranquil.

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCalgary Guy

I'm not yet familiar with the community gardens in Calgary since I'm new to the city. But I bike around abit.

From VAncouver where there are now 2,500+ community garden plots. And some large community gardens are located by coincidence (seriously) by signed bike routes. (am blogmaster here too..)

There are also community gardens planted within traffic calming circles.


April 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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