I was intrigued to learn today that the largest urban orchard in North America opened just this week, not far from where I live. CBC News tells us here that the land was once occupied by a gas station, now transformed into an urban green space where almost 500 fruit trees have been planted in raised boxes. So on the way home this afternoon, I took a detour to ‘the orchard’, located in Vancouver at Main and Terminal, with my camera. While there, I happened upon Tyson, who’s actively involved in the project. I learned that the lot (almost five acres) had been vacant for 12 years. The surrounding community had expressed some concern during site preparation, he said, over the fate of a large tree; it is in the process of being carefully transplanted elsewhere in the city. He explained that wrinkles were presently being ironed out in an elaborate hydroponic system – and that it would take two years for roots to become fully established, and the trees to bear fruit. Turns out the urban orchard is a little oasis in the gridlock, an uplifting place to visit.
“A perennial tree crop system for an urban environment is in many ways more sensible than vegetable production. These trees at their peak will be 15, 20, 25 feet high. They create an incredible habitat once they’ve been developed. This is essentially taking agricultural instincts and applying it to the city. This is a production model, and it’s designed to produce production quantities of food and jobs, two of our primary goals.” – SOLEfood co-founder Michael Ableman.