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Community plants food forest at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Kalamalka Demonstration Garden kicks off its first planting project Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15 with the creation of a demonstration food forest area at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College.

More than 150 trees, bushes, shrubs, herbs, vines, flowers and some root crops will be planted with the help of students from Vernon Secondary School’s Environmental Leadership class, community volunteers and Okanagan College students and staff.

Gordon Hiebert, owner of Element Eco-Design and a Continuing Studies instructor at Okanagan College, has been instrumental in the design of the garden and will be overseeing the planting.

“This garden will be a long-term low maintenance food solution,” Hiebert said. “Once the food forest is established the plants can be used for food, fuel, fibre (mulch), fodder, fertilizer and farmeceuticals. Also, because the plants are perennial and mostly native they will require less water than annual vegetables.”

The project is supported by the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan through a grant from Tree Canada and by Okanagan College’s Innovation Fund.

“This is truly a win-win partnership,” said North Okanagan Regional Dean, Jane Lister. “The College and community have come together to create an educational space to promote sustainable agriculture while opening the door to new programming and skill-building through practical application.”

The food forest marks the first planting project for the Garden, which up until now has focused on implementing the required infrastructure and water conservation features.

The food forest is one component of the permaculture landscapes that will be featured at the garden. The garden will eventually be comprised of a number of agricultural projects, including vegetable crops and a greenhouse. It will also demonstrate passive water conservation practices such as contour swales and curb cuts.

In addition, the site will host Patchwork Community Farms – a collective community garden designed to provide inclusive recreation and educational programming for community members as part of the Greater Vernon Community Garden Network, and under the administration of the lead agency for the farm, Kindale Developmental Association. Food grown at the farm will be distributed to community groups serving those who may lack access to fresh produce.

More information about Kalamalka Demonstration Garden and Patchwork Community Farms can be found through the Okanagan College website at