As summer rolls in finding time for blog posts gets more and more difficult. But have no fear! Great things are happening: all of my research sites are swinging into full gear and I’m visiting them all regularly; I’ve attended some great educational events including Young Agrarians‘ Agrarian Arts in the Prairie and the Agroforestry Woodlot Extension Society‘s Shelterbelt Renovation Workshop; and my personal gardens at home are looking less and less feeble! My latest wonderful learning opportunity and subject of this post was a food forestry training in British Columbia last weekend.
I took the course Food Forestry North of the 49th with Richard Walker hosted at the Clear Sky Meditation & Study Center. Clear Sky would have been worth the visit even if the training had not been happening. The facilities are lovely and the landscape is what you would expect from a retreat nestled in the mountains of British Columbia, beautiful and peaceful. The site features a prairie grass restoration area and a three-year-old food forest. Everyone associated with Clear Sky was so welcoming and embodied the organization’s mission of constantly learning and striving for enlightenment, not only in meditation, but in all aspects of life.
The course was excellent. Richard Walker was exceedingly knowledgeable and everyone at the training brought insight to the discussion. The course covered food forest basics and applications; site assessment and design; brix testing sugar content in produce; lots about soil and composting; and tree care. I was exceedingly excited to learn more about tree pruning and grafting. Grafting is when you take a branch from a tree that bares fruit you like, and attach that branch to another tree so that the 2nd tree also produces the yummy fruit. You might do this if your 2nd tree has a stronger rootstock or unfavorable fruit. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein process, but with trees it makes sense and, I promise, it isn’t gruesome at all. I always thought grafting was a highly technical processes, but I was happy to find the basic procedure very simple. I feel so fortunate to have so many opportunities in my life to be re-inspired in my field, and constantly learning. This course reminded me how much I love the outdoors, working with trees, and creative nature-based design.
On the six hour drive back home, my travel buddy and I stopped at the historic landmark Frank Slide also known as Canada’s deadliest rockslide. This is the site of a terrible rockslide that destroyed a small mining town in 1903. The expanse of the rock field was daunting. The highway goes right through the middle, and one can only image the machinery needed to clear the path for the road. The site leaves you in awe of the power and unpredictability of nature. It’s also quite pretty despite the tragedy.
Many thanks to Fulbright Canada for funding this latest adventure. I feel so fortunate to able to take advantage of their professional development program for current students to visit areas of Canada outside of their region and find more opportunities to learn and grow in their fields.