The Barnacle team will be away at sea for the month of July, check back in August for our next print issue!

The Forest for the Trees 

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

(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

Welcome to our third column about Ne’ata’q, The Food Forest at Bluenose Academy! If you’ve visited the school grounds in recent weeks, you will have noticed some exciting changes. In the grassy circle of the bus loop, a forest has sprouted.

But passing by you might say, “Doesn’t look like a forest to me! Looks like fence posts. Some holes dug by excavator. Lots of dirt and—is that seaweed? Where are the trees?!”

Digging for the fruit-tree orchard in the bus loop is the first visible change on the school grounds. It looks the way it does for reasons that may be less apparent. On Facebook and Instagram, we post events, updates, and calls for volunteers—the what of the project. Here in the Barnacle, we hope to explain the why

We chose the orchard location for maximum sunlight but also for maximum visibility. We want you to walk by and say, “Hey, what’s happening here?” We have plans for a community bulletin board and other signage to welcome you.

Reluctantly, though, we decided to fence this small portion of the food forest. We want to share food grown at the school but as any gardener in Lunenburg knows, deer often help themselves. The fence was designed with care, however. Stakes were measured out and pounded in by a very enthusiastic Grade 3/4 class as part of their math class and posts were set by a group of volunteers.

Wide, deep holes for the fruit trees were excavated by Town of Lunenburg as generous, in-kind support for the food forest project. These holes were quickly filled—not with trees but with storm-cast seaweed and dead-fall logs. Why? Seaweed is an excellent organic fertilizer and decaying logs help to establish a network of mycelium, which is essential for healthy trees. In the spaces between our fruit trees, we will plant bushes, flowers, and herbs to attract pollinators, keep the soil moist, and repel pests.

The overall theme here—the big answer to why—is connection. Connection among the plants and animals; connection among members of the Lunenburg community; and, most importantly, connection between us and the land.

These teachings were shared with us during a smudge and tobacco offering led by Shawn Feener, Regional Coordinator of Mi’kmaw Education Services for the South Shore Regional Center for Education. Shawn invited us to pause before ground was “broken” on April 26, to consider our intentions with this project, to open ourselves to learning in all forms, and to give thanks. Shawn’s words and this beautiful ceremony were reminder that we are all connected to the earth and to each other.

But perhaps you are still asking, “Where are the trees?” The first tree in our soon-to-be forest will be planted on May 26 in an opening event for school staff and students. In the following days, volunteers will plant more fruit trees and companion plants.

Want to get involved? We need tree planters, summer caretakers, and worker bees for all sorts of tasks. Please see our website and connect with us!


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