Spring is budding and blooming with scents, colours and edibles in the Galiano Conservancy’s remarkable Forest Garden! The Forest Garden is modeled on permaculture, which mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of the natural plant and animal community that occur in the surrounding environment. We recently introduced our new Environmental Education program, Edible Forest in the Forest Garden. Sooke Girl Guides and 1st Emily Carr Trex Girl Guides have recently had the chance to get their hands dirty in the rich soil of the Forest Garden.
Imagine you have shrunk. You are at ground level and your nostrils are filled with the scents of Lavender, Rosemary, Yarrow and Comfrey. This is the herbaceous level of the Forest Garden that covers the floor. Next, imagine you have grown a little taller and come across a tall shrub that produces an orange berry high in vitamin C. This is Sea Buckthorn and represents the next layer along with Black Currant. You grow to about 5 or 6 meters to discover the sub-canopy species; Cornelian Cherry tree and Desert King Fig. Finally, you grow the height of a giant! The height of the tallest layer of the Forest Garden, is the Chinese Chestnut tree between 8 – 20 meters. The visiting Girl Guides got to know each layer of the Forest Garden in this close up manner through an activity called the Teaching Train.
We began the program by hiking from our off-grid classroom at the Millard Learning Centre along the Ridge-line trail to the Forest Garden. While hiking, Girl Scouts snacked on native edible plants and harvested nettle and Grand-Fir needles to create a delicious tea. We observed each layer of the forest and later compared layers of the coastal forest to the Forest Garden layers. By the time we completed the Teaching Train, the scouts were able to teach their peers about medicinal benefits and the role these plants play in the Forest Garden.
They returned home with smiles on their faces, dirt under their finger-nails from planting Bachelor Buttons and bracelets made from Day Lilly. Join us on Galiano in our Forest Garden for a program of your own!
“Amazing site and a great balance between natural aspects with the coastal forest and the more managed farm (food forest). Showing how nature can be incorporated into a home environment too.”
“Britt was a great tour leader – very knowledgeable and good at putting things into an accessible context for our group.” – Emily Carr Trex Leader