The Agapè Centre, the charity that feeds over 200 people a day has planted 100 new dwarf apple and pear trees on the property of Fountaingate Christian Assembly, as well as 100 seedless grape vines believing that good food has the power to build healthy communities.
The first fruit harvest is expected year 2015. The Agapè Centre wants to get more fresh, local and organically grown produce onto the tables of individuals and families, living on low incomes. “Growing an important food source, fruit, for the Centre is a much more sustainable resource than re-planting our garden every year. Once the trees settle in, they require very little maintenance compared to annual vegetables, making them perfect for our volunteers,” says Alyssa Blais, Executive Director of the Agapè Centre.
Volunteers, co-op students and a couple of staff planted this urban fruit forest on Friday, November 1st, which was one of the windiest days so far this year. “The planting alone was remarkable! We did not think we would be able to do it, it was so windy. But we did. We dug 200 holes, mulched with the wood chips we got free from the City of Cornwall and when the last tree – an apple pear tree – went into the ground, we all clapped and cheered,” adds Alyssa.
Tree expert Ken Taylor will be guiding the Agapè Centre, as he shares his tree collection with the local food bank and soup kitchen. For more than 30 years, Ken has been involved in the study of organic and cold weather farming. With his simple approach and unique hardy trees, the Agapè Centre will have created a fruit orchard that will withstand the northern climate and be resistant to many of the known insect pests and tree diseases. The fruit forest is nestled between several acres of landscape that is dotted already with cows and trees in Cornwall.
“There is a growing movement in the food banking world for organizations like ours to be advocates for good healthy food. We want to do our bit to support people in a way that we can and we were able to get this project off the ground through the wonderful gift provided by Medical Arts Pharmacy. We truly appreciate their support and are most grateful because without their gift, Agapè’s fruit orchard would not have happened,” says Alyssa.
In the future, the Agapè Centre will involve the whole community for an apple day which is traditionally October 21st, where one can taste the fruit produce, help with the making of apple sauce and celebrate the harvest. They also plan on hosting a Wassail January 16th, 2014 at the Centre. A wassail is a celebration of the orchard to ensure fertility in the year to come. It will be an opportunity to drink hot cider, eat apple pancakes and make a toast for the health and vitality of the orchard.
Alyssa encourages anyone interested in helping them manage the trees or volunteer at the events to get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org .