Fruit trees will soon be growing again in city parks thanks to an ‘Edible Trees’ grant from Trees Canada.
The partnership involving Scouts Canada and the Inn of the Good Shepherd is being facilitated by City Hall.
The harvest will supply fresh fruit to the Inn’s Mobile Market, which distributes fresh produce to 13 neighborhoods in Sarnia-Lambton from July to November.
Local scout and Inn volunteers will plant and maintain the trees, said Patti Ross, the city’s manager of parks, forestry and horticulture.
It normally takes a few years for fruit trees to bear fruit so it will be future scouts and volunteers who do the picking, she added.
Two city parks are being considered for the project slated to begin in May.
“We are looking at land that won’t interfere with public use,” Ross said.
Many cities stopped planting fruit trees because the unharvested fruit is messy and attracts wasps, raccoons and other pests.
But shifting attitudes and the rising tide of the Eat Local movement are changing municipal minds.
Ross said a variety of trees such as pears and peaches and cherries are being considered, and edible nut trees may also be on the menu.
It’s not yet known how many can be purchased with the $4,000 grant, Ross said.
Myles Vanni, the Inn’s executive director, said people struggling to make ends meet generally have poorer health so projects like Edible Trees are a game-changer.
“Providing fresh and healthy foods is a key to overcoming this,” he said.
A total of 6,200 lbs. of fresh produce was distributed last year, which was donated largely by the area’s agriculture community, he said.
The fruit trees are also a great idea for young people, said local Scouting volunteer Mark Hornblower.
“This is a fantastic project for Scouting youth and fits perfectly with what Scouting is all about.”
The Sarnia project was one of 20 chosen from 167 entries. Aamjiwnaang also received one of the Tree Canada grants.