Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Harvest Celebration - Oct 31 2015

Join us!

We are having a fall event down at the food forest on Saturday Oct 31st from 10am-2pm! This is a free event.

There will be
- Lunch (soup and bread)
- hot chocolate
- warming station
- Park garbage Clean Up
- Drum circle
- dress up for Halloween
- Info about food security distributed
- Tour of food forest
- Weeding and tree collaring
- Milk carton gardening demo

Come on down and join in the fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Work Bee Aug 15th 2015

Join us!

Come down to the food forest this Saturday Aug 15th from 9am-12pm! We will be weeding, mulching and harvesting apples...yeah! Join us if you can. Bring something to take your apples home in :)  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Work Bee July 4th 2015

Join us!

Come down to the food forest this Saturday July 4th from 9am-12pm! We will be planting trees, weeding and mulching...yeah! Join us if you can. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 12 Work Bee Photos

Pics from last weeks work bee with the students. Got a lot of mulching done and thinned out some of the walnut trees.

A good time was had by all :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Work Bee June 12 2015

Join us!

Come down to the food forest this Friday June 12 from 11am-12:30pm! We will be planting trees, weeding and mulching...yeah! Join us if you can. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Spring Social 2015

Yesterday's Spring Social turned out to be a great event! Beautiful weather and so many helpful volunteers showed up to plant and enjoy the music, food, and community!  Thanks so much for all your help :)
We will be having some more work bee's throughout the summer if you want to get involved. Stay tuned for updates on the blog and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 23rd 2015 Spring Social Timetable

Here is the timetable for the event on Saturday. Come on over to the food forest table to sign up for the fruit tree giveaway and get your tickets for the draw!



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

FOOD FOREST MEDICINE Monograph #10: Wild Leeks

Common Name:

Wild Leeks (Ramps)

Latin Name: Allium tricoccum

Brief Description:
Wild leeks are native to the eastern North American mountains. They can be found growing in patches in rich, moist, deciduous forests and bottoms from as far north as Canada, west to Missouri and Minnesota, and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. In early spring, ramps send up smooth, broad, lily-of-the-valley-like leaves that disappear by summer before the white flowers appear. The bulbs have the pleasant taste of sweet spring onions with a strong garlic-like aroma.
Caution: Lily of the valley is a poisonous look alike. The easiest way to make sure they are wild leeks is to crush the leaves and take a sniff. If it smells like garlic it is not Lily of the Valley.
Parts Used/Edible Uses:
The leaves and bulbs are edible.
Medicinal Uses:
Ramps first became a marketable commodity in 1966, when the USDA began to promote wild crafting as a means of improving the local economies of south-central Appalachia. The area is still known today for its focus on traditional uses of plant foods and medicines (Cavender 2006). Wild leeks have a variety of traditional medical uses and have properties that lend them to potentially be developed into modern medicines to treat more serious diseases. As some of the first greens to emerge in the spring, wild leeks are an integral part of a vitamin and mineral tonic many use to promote health after the long winter months (Davis and Greenfield 2002). They have also been used as a preventative measure against colds and the flu, as well as for part of a cure for scurvy (Legault 2003; Feiring 2006). For these uses, the plant is best consumed whole, and is eaten either raw or fried. Also, the plant is used as a purging tool for disease prevention and treatment to clean both the blood and the digestive system (Cavender 2006). Some evidence points toward the ability of wild leeks to lower cholesterol and lipid counts in the blood (Cavender 2006).
Body System’s Treated:
Cardiovascular, Digestive
Harvesting Notes:
Over-harvesting has become a concern for many conservationists. You should be careful on the amount of leeks you intend on harvesting in one area. Small patches of leeks can be over-harvested leaving nothing for the upcoming season.
Depending on what you plan on using the leeks for, you might just harvest the leaves, leaving the bulb in the ground. Ideally the leaves should be around 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, for the mildest flavor.
Methods for harvest include digging the whole patch, harvesting a portion of a patch, or thinning out and harvesting just the largest plants. Do not harvest plants until they have filled the site, have large bulbs, and have flowered.
If whole plots are harvested at one time, it is recommended to have enough plots to allow for a 5 to 7 year rotation. That is, to have continuous harvest year after year, harvest only one-fifth or one-seventh of your production area each year. When harvesting a portion of a plot, no more than 15% of the ramps should be removed. If the thinning method is used, great care should be taken not to damage plants that are not harvested. Based on research done on wild population, harvests should be limited to 5 to 10% of the plants in each plot.
If harvesting bulbs from the wild make sure to cover the hole that is left with leaves from the forest floor. Exposed soil leaves an opening for invasive species like garlic mustard to root and take over.
None known.




Cavender, A. 2006. Folk medical uses of plant foods in southern Appalachia, United States. Journal of Ethno pharmacology 108:74-84.

Davis, J.M. and J. Greenfield. 2002. Cultivating ramps: Wild leeks of Appalachia. p. 449-452.

In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.

Feiring, Alice. 2006. “Into the woods, on the trail of the wild leek.” New York Times. New York Times, 14 Apr. 2006. Web. 1 Apr. 2012.

Legault, Rita. 2003. Popularity threatens wild leeks: take a few, leave the rest, suggests Conservationist. Record 1.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FOOD FOREST MEDICINE Monograph #9: Sugar Maple

Common Name:

Sugar Maple

Latin Name: Acer saccharum

Brief Description:
Sugar maple is a deciduous tree, normally growing to heights of 12-24m. The leaves can reach up to 20cm long and wide, and have 5 palmate lobes. In spring/summer, this tree will be filled with green leaves but towards fall, it will start to color unevenly. It may be distinguished in the wintertime by its sharply pointed, multi-scaled, narrowly conical buds, which are pale brown The end bud is about ¼ inch long, with side buds being smaller. Sugar maple branches are opposite.
Parts Used:
Inner bark, leaves, sap, seed, seedlings
Edible Uses:
Syrup!!! (pancakes, French toast, sweetener for tea...) Some First Nations people combined maple sugar with powdered sweet corn as an energy food for long journeys, or as the base for a sauce used in roast venison preparations. Sap can also be converted into vinegar (7).
Seedlings gathered in early April could also be washed, chopped and added to salads or soups (7).
Medicinal Uses:
Traditionally used in treatment of coughs and diarrhoea. Sap is used as cough syrup. Boiled leaves can be applied topically as a poultice for boils. Decoction of leaves and bark in the treatment of sore eyes. A decoction of leaves/bark is also thought to strengthen the liver and kidneys. Generally considered a tonic (for liver, kidney, spleen and nerves)(6).
Maple sap is often high in oligosaccharides (biochemically, a small sized carbohydrate consisting of 3-9 simple sugars/monosaccharides). It has been shown that oligosaccharides serve as pre-biotic nutrients. Pre-biotic oligosaccharides have been shown to feed beneficial intestinal micro-flora, while suppressing other intestinal bacteria. Some studies have shown that maple sap may serve as a good medium for the growth and production of probiotic bacteria for supplemental use in humans. Thus, maple sap may be a good option for non-dairy source probiotic drinks. However, some people may have difficulty digesting oligosaccharides, making the consumption of pre-biotic rich foods, such as maple sap, problematic in these populations(8,9).
Maple sap and syrup contain antioxidant properties. Syrup has more anti-oxidant capacity than the sap. Maple syrup has a similar ORAC value (a measure of anti-oxidant value) as strawberry and orange juices. Some maple syrup extracts have also shown in vitro anti cancer action (4).
Maple sap is said to contain Abscisic acid. Studies using mouse models have shown promise for maple sap, via Abscisic acid, to have potent anti diabetic effects in mice along with anti-inflammatory action in inflammatory bowel disease and atherosclerosis. This research is preliminary and requires further research.
Body System’s Treated:
Respiratory, nervous system,liver, kidneys, spleen, digestive
Other Uses:
Fuel, Potash, preservative, wood
Harvesting Notes:
Maple trees should be at least 1 foot in diameter (about 40 years old) before they can be tapped, and no tree should have more than 3 taps. Place taps near bottom of the tree slanting upwards to allow sap to slowly drain into containers. Make sure containers have lids so rain water cannot dilute the sap. Look to harvest in late winter/early spring. A large maple will yield 3-6pounds of sap annually.
None known
1) http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acer+saccharum

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_saccharum

3) http://www.foodreference.com/html/artmaplesyrup.html

4) Jean Legault, Karl Girard-Lalancette, Carole Grenon, Catherine Dussault, and André Pichette.Journal of Medicinal Food.
April 2010, 13(2): 460-468. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0029.

5) Some Aromatic Compounds in Sap Composition of Maple Sap and Syrup V. J. FILIPIC and J. C. UNDERWOOD. Journal of Food Science vol 29 issue 4 pp 464-469 , July 1964.

6)Hutchens, Alma. Indian Herbology of North America. Shambhala Publications, 1973.

7) Harris, Ben Charles. Eat the Weeds. Barre Publishers, 1971.

8)Lett Appl Microbiol. 2008 Dec;47(6):500-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2008.02451.x.Maple sap as a rich medium to grow probiotic lactobacilli and to produce lactic acid.Cochu A1, Fourmier D, Halasz A, Hawari J.

9) Bode, L. (2009). "Human milk oligosaccharides: prebiotics and beyond.".Nutrition Reviews 67(2): S183–91. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00239.x.

10) Bassaganya-Riera, J; Skoneczka, J; Kingston, DG; Krishnan, A; Misyak, SA; Guri, AJ; Pereira, A;Carter, AB; Minorsky, P; Tumarkin, R; Hontecillas, R(2010). "Mechanisms of action and medicinal applications of abscisic Acid". Current medicinal chemistry 17 (5): 467–78.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spring Social - Save the Date!

London's Carolinian Food Forest presents the 1st annual South Branch Spring Social. Come on down for free food, free trees, free fun!

Saturday May 23rd from 11 am - 3 pm at the Carolinian Food Forest in South Branch Park.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Starting Native Plants From Seed Indoors

The icy grip of February is still upon us and spring seems very far away.  You're probably itching to open up your seed packs and start those tomatoes or peppers but it might be a bit early.

There are seeds that can be started right now however.

Assortment of Carolinian seeds.

Seeds from most annual plants can be sown in spring and will grow no problem but many native plants seeds start off dormant and require a period of stratification to break this dormancy before the seed can grow.

Different seeds require different types of stratification and it's sometimes a matter of trial and error before you can determine which stratification method will work.  Mimicking the natural cycle of a seed in its native environment will usually do the trick; and most native seeds will have documented stratification info somewhere.

The most common type of stratification required is where the seed is moist and cool for a period of time but sometimes a warm moist period or combinations of the two may be needed as well.

Stratification can be done naturally by planting the seed outside in the fall and letting the seeds go through their natural cycle to break the dormancy or it can be mimicked indoors.  This method is probably the simplest and least labour intensive.

Stratifying indoors can be done using a variety of methods but one method that is quite successful is the 'baggie method'.

Nodding onion ready for the fridge.

The baggie method involves using a seal-able plastic bag and moist coffee filters/paper towels/cotton balls.  Cut the coffee filter in half an fold in half a couple times.  Dip the coffee filter in water and then squeeze out the excess water until the filter is damp but not soaking wet.  Open up the coffee filter and place your seeds inside then close the filter. Place the filter inside the bag and seal it up.  Label your bag with the name of the plant and the stratification details. (ie. date put into fridge and date to take out of fridge).

If the seeds require cold stratification place them in the fridge for the prescribed amount of time.  Its a good idea to periodically check your seeds just in case they have germinated a bit early.

Container of seeds being stratified in the fridge.

Some seeds will require only a few weeks in the fridge whereas others may require months.  It is a good idea to plan ahead when to start stratification so you can time putting seedlings outdoors in good weather.

These pawpaw seeds require 100 days cold stratification.

Once you have noticed your seeds germinating it is time to plant them into soil.  Tweezers are quite handy for picking up the germinated seeds.  Plant into seed starting mix and place in a sunny location until they are large enough to plant outdoors in spring.

Happy growing!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

FOOD FOREST MEDICINE Monograph #7: Winter Green

Common Name:  


Latin Name: Gaultheria procumbens

Brief Description:

Gaultheria procumbens is an evergreen shrub growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Oct to December. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Parts Used/Edible Uses:   

Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
Fruit - raw or cooked. It has a very strong spicy taste. Best after a frost, the fruit hangs onto the plant until spring if it is not eaten by birds etc. The fruits can also be used in pies, or made into jams etc. The fruit is up to 15mm in diameter.  A stronger tea can be made by first fermenting the bright red leaves. 'Oil of wintergreen' can be distilled from this plant. It is used to flavour beer, sweets, chewing gum etc.

Medicinal Uses:

Analgesic;  Anti-inflammatory;  Anti-rheumatic;  Aromatic;  Astringent
Carminative; Diuretic;   Stimulant;  Tonic.

Other Uses: Essential.

An essential oil is obtained from the leaves by steam distillation. In order to obtain the oil, the leaves need to be steeped for 12 - 24 hours in water. The essential oil is used as a food flavouring, medicinally (the original source of Wintergreen oil used as a liniment for aching muscles) and in perfumery and toothpastes. In large doses it can be toxic. A good ground-cover plant for shady positions though it requires weeding for the first year or so. Forming a dense tuft-like carpet, it roots as it spreads and should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.


The pure distilled essential oil is toxic in large doses. If used orally may aggravate stomach ulcers. Do not use if allergic to aspirin. Avoid if less than 12. Topical use can cause contact dermatitis.


Sunday, January 18, 2015


Here's a recipe for a tasty treat to warm you up on a cold Canadian winter day.

Candied Wild Ginger, from dried rhizomes-2013

Candied Wild Ginger Recipe

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 50 grams dried dried Wild Ginger broken into 1/2′′ to 2′′ pieces. (rootlets rubbed off).
  • extra sugar for coating when done.
  • bring the water to a boil
  • give your dry Wild Ginger a quick but thorough scrub in cold water.
  • add Wild Ginger pieces to boiling water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • stir in sugar till dissolved and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • set aside to cool down to room temperature
  • once cooled, put it in a jar and let it sit for 2 days in a covered non metallic jar.
  • drain all the liquid and let the Wild Ginger pieces stand in a colander till they stop dripping.
  • take 1 cup of sugar for each 50 grams of original dried Wild Ginger, mix the sugar and Ginger in a bowl till the ginger no longer picks up sugar granules. 
  • let them dry
  • put your candied Wild Ginger loosely into a well sealed glass or ceramic jar to keep for future use. 

*recipe and image from apothecarysgarden.com

Friday, January 9, 2015

FOOD FOREST MEDICINE Monograph #6: Wild Ginger

Common Name:

Wild Ginger (Snake Root)

Latin Name: Asarum canadense
Brief Description:
On a cold winter day there is no Carolinian plant species that can warm up your insides like wild ginger can.  It is a spicy and aromatic herb, which means that it is great for treating symptoms associated with cold and stagnation (or those associated with Canadian winters!), such as cold extremities, bloating, bad breath, gas and malaise.

The name ‘wild ginger’ itself can be a bit misleading, since wild ginger and common ginger (Zingiber officinalis) are not related plant species.  However, one sniff of wild ginger root will have you convinced that they are of the same family.  Some wild food foragers claim that wild ginger rhizomes can be used as a substitute for Zingiber in cooking.

Wild ginger is also diaphoretic, which means that it can be used to maximize fever.  Adding a couple of table spoons of powdered ginger root to a bath can help speed recovery from the common cold.

Wild ginger is an erect perennial, growing up to 4-12 inches high. Each plant bears a pair of large velvety, heart-shaped leaves. Growing at ground level in the crotch between 2 leafstalks is a single darkish, red-brown to green-brown flower. The flower is usually hidden at ground level in solitary below the leaves.
Parts Used: Root
Edible Uses: Carminative to flavour stir fries, soups etc..  Candied ginger root was traditionally used on long journeys to combat digestive upset from eating spoiled foods.
Medicinal Uses:
Used in the treatment of nausea and digestive upset.  Native Americans and traditional herbalists use wild ginger rhizome to regulate menstruation and irregular heartbeat. (in other words, to treat a “damp-cold uterus”).   Wild ginger is also known to be diaphoretic (inducing, and maximize fevers).
Body System’s Treated: Digestive tract, female reproductive tract, cardiovascular system, immune system.
Harvesting Notes:
Pick without destroying the perennial, and push back any loose soil once done. You can harvest many times a year, but autumn is best.  Dry/crush the root to maximize its flavour.
Leaves may be poisonous and cause dermatitis in some people (skin irritation).
The Complete Natural Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs
Christine Dennis, Registered Herbalist.  2010 Herbal Field Experience. Course notes.
Rosalee de la Foret. Learning Herbs.  Taste of Herbs Course Notes, 2013.
Richard Vuskinic, ND. Clinical Pearls, 2015.