Our friends at REAP are gearing up for another successful growing season coordinating the Community Orchards Program, and Conscious Brands could not be more excited to watch this project flourish (literally).
REAP’s Community Orchards program allows local businesses to donate fruit bearing trees to simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and food poverty while beautifying public spaces. Since 2014 the program is offered in collaboration with Enactus Calgary, a volunteer-run student organization at University of Calgary that uses entrepreneurial initiatives to better communities around the globe.
This year the number of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs being donated has more than tripled, up to 400 from 114. They will be planted on July 18-19 at five Calgary Homeless Foundation sites, the new Community Food Centre on International Avenue, Grow Calgary, and community gardens in Bankview, Capitol Hill and Silver Springs
The creation of the program was due to the inspiration and leadership of Eat Naaco founders Stephanie Shields and Aman Adatia. In 2012, they approached REAP for help planting 50 trees to offset the carbon emissions from their food truck. Greengate Garden Centres quickly came on board to supply the plants and contribute their own donation. Four sites were selected in partnership with International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone.
Since opening up the program to other REAP businesses it has grown exponentially. This month the program will have involved 18 donor businesses, providing close to 600 plants to create 17 Community Orchards around Calgary.
Grow Calgary is this year’s largest recipient, receiving more than 175 trees and shrubs to add to the Community Orchard that was started last year. This volunteer-run farm provides 21 organizations, including the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank, with fresh produce. “It’s a beautiful thing,” says Grow Calgary founder Paul Hughes of the Community Orchard program. Before last year, Grow Calgary never had the capabilities to care for fruit trees, and now he says they practically have their own orchard.
“We’re rooted in compassion,” he says. Paul has a soft spot for kids, and feels it is of upmost importance to feed healthy food to Calgarians in their formative years, so he’s happy to provide his produce to likeminded organizations.
REAP businesses contributing to the 2016 Community Orchards include:
Dolan Wealth Management
Greengate Garden Centres
Leela Eco Spa
Market 17 Organic Grocery Store
Neal’s Yard Remedies
Nya Sustainability Consulting
Sunnyside Natural Market
“It’s players like Enactus, REAP that recognize the need for diversity within food production, and they’re willing to walk the walk and give food to the vulnerable. We’re very grateful as an organization to be the beneficiaries.”
Want to get involved with this exciting program? We’re looking for volunteers for the July 18 planting at Grow Calgary (10319 West Valley Rd SW, near Winsport – formerly Canada Olympic Park) from 1:30-8:00 p.m. Email Victoria Ross at Enactus Calgary to register. Please wear close toed shoes and bring your own shovel.