Food Forest Phase Two! A Wabanaki/Acadian Forest

(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

The Sun is Coming Out: Ne’ata’q, The Food Forest at Bluenose Academy

Fall is a great time to plant trees and that’s exactly what we’re doing at Ne’ata’q, the Food Forest at Bluenose Academy.

If you have visited the food forest—located in the bus loop behind the school on Tannery Road—you will have noticed some big changes. Phase One of the project, a fruit and nut orchard, is growing well and produced a small amount of fruit, herbs, and edible flowers, even in its first summer.

The second phase of the food forest will look very different. We’re planning a wilder area containing trees, shrubs, understory plants, ground cover, and fungi that are native to this part of Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia.

The native forest of our region is known as Wabanaki or Acadian forest. Wabanaki refers to the Indigenous peoples of what is now eastern Canada and Maine, and includes the Mi’kmaq. This Algonquin word can be translated as “dawnland.” Settlers used the term Acadian to describe the forests found at the time of colonization.

The Wabanaki forest is a complex ecosystem comprising dozens of species. The canopy trees include red spruce, yellow birch, hemlock, and balsam fir. While not human food, these trees support an even greater diversity of plants and fungi, many of which have nutritional, medicinal, and cultural value. Hazelnut, blueberry, ground potato, ferns, and wintergreen are just a few examples.

But less than one percent of old-growth Wabanaki forest remains standing. This forest ecosystem is now considered endangered.

Our food forest project hopes to raise awareness and appreciation of this beautiful forest by rewilding a small patch of land. It is difficult to recreate the complexity of a mature forest, of course. But we plan to include as many native plants as possible, from the tiny wild strawberry to the towering tamarack. We will also use techniques that encourage the plants to help each other, amending the soil to support mychorrhizal fungi, for example. 

Come and get involved! The food forest is for everyone.

You can volunteer to haul seaweed, plant plants and lots more. We are also offering three free workshops this fall: Planting Trees to Thrive (Oct 21), Protecting Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs (Oct 28) and Winterizing the Forest with Natural Materials (Nov 4). To sign up, follow the links in this article, check out our website, or email us at Thank you for helping to raise a food forest!


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