Since its inception six years ago, the Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) Orchard located the Intercultural Centre/McCauley School (9538 107 Avenue) has grown each year, and now some of the trees are beginning to produce an abundance of fruit. This year was especially productive at the orchard.
It started on March 10, 2018. OFRE and EPG hosted a Design Charette to rework the mandala. Out of that meeting, came the start of a revised master plan that would rebuild the mandala, and integrate more permaculture design features. The new design focused on building the nutrient base of the soil to help feed the trees and host a new set of bio regional companion planting. The paths were to be dug out and placed over cardboard as a sheet mulch to combat the quack grass and provide nutrients to the plants creating a renewed look and feel for the orchard that will be completed next year.
In the heat of July, OFRE and EPG worked together to plant 22 shrubs that were relocated from the living bridge providing a much-needed mid-story to the orchard.
Over two weeks in August the cider shack was painted by Mika Haykowsky with a mural to bring much needed colour to the cider shack, and on August 26 OFRE and The Edmonton Permaculture Guild (EPG) banded together to start the installation of the revised master plan in an epic full day event that was part educational workshops, part permablitz, and part potluck.
Mike Johnson and OFRE hosted a cider pressing demonstration and workshop which ran all day. Over 2000 lbs of apples were pressed and made into cider. Kaz Haykowsky and Marcin Makarewicz with Spruce Permaculture hosted a soil-building workshop, which was followed by sheet mulching of three sections. Carleton Gruger with Gruger Family Fungi hosted a Mushrooms 101 workshop in the late afternoon, which was followed by the planting of King Oyster, Pink Oyster, and Blue Oyster mushrooms in two of the beds. The mushrooms are edible, and contribute to the ecology through soil building and through their symbiotic relationship with the trees. EPG and OFRE jointly hosted the potluck.
Bi-weekly in the fall, OFRE hosts free cider pressings for people who want to learn how to make cider with the abundance of their fruit, and more events are planned with EPG and OFRE where you learn about permaculture, food processing, and proper tree care and maintenance.