About the Wild Town Orchard Project

Wild Town Orchard is an open access food security initiative to map the fruit trees of New Waterford and area.

Background

Our community has an abundance of fruit trees (in particular, apple trees and sour cherry bushes). Many of the trees were planted when European settlers first arrived in Unama’ki. Fruit trees and berry bushes were important sources of food not only for these settlers but especially for the Mi’kmaq people who have lived on this island since time immemorial.

Now those fruit trees have become wild and uncultivated—thousands of pounds of food go unharvested—and uneaten—each fall.

By finding, mapping, taste testing, and cataloguing these fruit trees, our goal is to prevent food waste and increase access to local, healthy food. Every year we buy apples at grocery stores that are shipped here from the Nova Scotia mainland, Ontario, BC, California, or even New Zealand, yet apples literally grow in our own backyards. And, while grocery stores only offer a few varieties of apples for sale, our town has hundreds of unique varieties to choose from!

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of a food system based on sourcing food from away. Any interruption in our food supply chain could be disastrous. Not only have food prices increased, but a lack of foreign workers normally employed to harvest our food may result in massive food shortages in the very near future. 

The only solution to this impending food crisis is to grow, glean, and source food locally.

Benefits

Besides providing access to healthy food, harvesting and eating fruit from local trees will also:

  • connect people and build community through food sharing
  • increase food security by sourcing food from our community
  • divert food waste
  • decrease our reliance on “food from away” and the fossil fuel needed to get it here
  • improve our health: fruit is loaded with vitamins and the fresher and more local it is, the healthier it is, too
  • save money

Our Process

This summer and fall our team will be on the hunt for local fruit trees. We will:

  • locate fruit trees in New Waterford, Lingan, Scotchtown, River Ryan, New Victoria, and Victoria Mines
  • take pictures of them to record GPS coordinates
  • input photos and GPS data into ArcGIS mapping software
  • use ArcGIS to record tree metadata (i.e., details such as taste or fruit, quality, pest/disease resistance, uses, etc)

Once it’s fall and harvest season, we will then revisit trees to “test” the fruit for taste, quality, and use, then input our findings in our database.

How the Fruit Will be Used

Besides eating fresh fruit, apples and other fruit can be used for:

  • sweet (non-alcoholic) and hard cider
  • sauces and fruit butters
  • jams and jellies
  • pies, cakes, crisps…the possibilities are endless!

It’s important to note that wild apples aren’t always great for eating raw. If your apples are bitter or sour, they may be great for cider. In fact, most apple trees were planted by settlers specifically for making cider.

How You Can Help

If you have fruit trees on your property or know of trees in our area, please fill out our form.

Need help identifying your trees? You can refer to our fruit tree guide.

What You Will Get in Return

Any fruit we harvest will be shared with you. Quantity will depend on how much we harvest and what your trees are like—but we aim to give you at least 5-10% of the harvest from your trees.

In the future, we may also sell fruit and fruit products from Wild Town Orchard. Money from sales of our orchard products will go to support our non-profit initiatives, such as the New Waterford Community Garden.

While we are aiming to build a comprehensive map of local fruit trees, it would be impossible to harvest all the fruit from all the trees—which is why our map will be open access in order to allow others to find and harvest fruit themselves.

Timeline

Wild Town Orchard is a multi-year project. This year (2020), our plan is to map, taste test, and catalogue trees. Products from the project will therefore not be available this year.

Contact

If you have question about Wild Town Orchard, please email bloom@wildtown.ca or call 902-304-8247.