Community Edible Landscape Program breaks ground for fruit trees and berry bushes

“Greenacres is the place to be” broke out in chorus among the dozen-plus ERUUFians CELP planting planting the tree supporting perennialsgathered in the grassy space next to the Fellowship Hall.  Maybe it was having a pitchfork, rake, or shovel in hand on a beautiful November day that led to the singing (mimicking the classic 60s TV show), happy with our efforts and time spent together.   We had just completed a project to plant fruit trees and berry bushes, part of the Community Edible Landscape Program (CELP). 

Funded in part by a grant from the ERFF Foundation and supported by the expertise of Bountiful Backyards (the Durham-based cooperative that specializes in creating edible landscapes), we planted four blueberry bushes, one Goumi Berry tree, and two Bush Cherries, as well as supporting perennials.

The blueberry bushes are varieties of Rabbiteye, a common type well-suited for the piedmont environment  and climate.  At full growth they will be 5-6 ft tall and 3-4 ft in width.  With proper maintenance (pruning, fertilization, and mulching) they should be producing about 10 lbs of berries in year 3 of their 30 year lifespan.

Goumi Berry trees produce a delicious and nutritious berry as well as being nitrogen fixers, promoting healthy soil.  Maintenance involves pruning twice a year to eventually maintain a 6 ft height and 4-6 ft width.  They are a great foundation plant for the edible landscape.  The Nanking Bush Cherries grow quickly to a height of 6-8 ft with 4 ft spread.  They are quick to fruit, usually within 2 years.  A number of perennials, including plants of the Aster, Mint, and Apiacae families, were planted to support the fruit trees and each other as a natural means of pest control (they attract large numbers of beneficial insects) and soil regeneration.  The great thing about this approach is that other than some periodic visits, the edible landscape requires minimal maintenance (and yes, there is a plan to deal with potential deer issues).

CELP is not simply about planting and growing food, but providing educational, social, spiritual, and community-building opportunities to the congregation.  We learned about methods of ground preparation for planting trees and bushes as well as beneficial plant interactions in nature.  During our planting we honored the Earth incorporating Native American (Lakota) ritual and drumming.  And we enjoyed one another’s company while working together.  

We plan to complete this project with planting two more trees and other supporting perennial in the coming months.  If you would like to participate, please contact CELP Trimtabs (Steering) Team member, Christine Frost.

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 CELP planting completed bed with fruit trees and supporting perennials  CELP planting bed preparation  CELP planting ritual reading 1