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Salmon Arm food forest recognized nationally as healthy urban greenspace

Project at Salvation Army food bank designed and managed by Coldstream’s Lekker Land Design
Salmon Arm Salvation Army Lt. Joel Torrens and Keli Westgate of Lekker Land Design worked with the Shuswap Food Action Society to create a food forest on the Salvation Army property at 441 3rd St. SW. (File photo)

Salmon Arm’s Lighthouse Community Food Forest has been recognized as a shining example of a healthy, climate-resistant urban greenspace.

Located at the Salvation Army property at 441 3rd St. SW., the food forest took root in 2021 after discussions occurred between the Shuswap Food Action Network and the Salvation Army Lighthouse Community Ministries food bank around food security and the availability of locally produced healthy food. The project was designed and managed by Coldstream’s Keli Westgate of Lekker Land Design, and was recently recognized by the Society for Organic Urban Landcare (SOUL) as one of its Greener Greenspaces of 2022.

Launched in 2021, SOUL’s Greener Greenspaces is a national program that recognizes urban greenspaces across Canada that exemplify greener stewardship. From tiny to extensive, volunteer-led to municipally created and maintained, sites of all shapes and sizes that offer examples of sustainable, regenerative and ecological land care are eligible for recognition.

“With increased need at the food bank and threats to local food security due to extreme weather events made worse by climate change, this project is rooted in solutions as it produces organic fruit, vegetables and herbs that are accessible and visible to the community,” said Westgate.

To be recognized as a Greener Greenspace, the site must be cared for using land care practices that: increase biodiversity and support plant health; improve soil health and protect air and water quality; take steps to minimize waste and energy consumption; and actively avoid the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

“Obviously we’re very thankful to be recognized,” said Westgate. “We want to be an example of what is possible if people are open to innovation and responding appropriately to the changing climate. We need more of this type of thing everywhere because it increases our local food security and it connects us to the land and where our food comes from, and offers support to those who are more and more in need right now.”

Westgate noted it can take up to seven years for food forests to come into their own.

“As the community gets used to caring for the space it’s just going to get better,” said Westgate.

The Society for Organic Urban Land Care is a non-profit Canadian organization formed in response to the growing need for ecologically responsible land care practices. An Organic Land Care Standard was first introduced by SOUL in 2003 to address the need for a tool to support a successful transition toward sustainable land care practices by individuals, community, industry and government.

Lekker Land Design is a permaculture-based business started by Westgate in 2021.

Read more: Community food forest taking root at Salmon Arm Salvation Army property

Read more: Beautifying tent city: Resident providing fresh food through community garden
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Various flora grows in the food forest at the Salmon Arm Salvation Army Lighthouse food bank property at 441 3rd St. SW. (Photo contributed)