The great hardwood forests which stretched across Ontario and were cleared by our ancestors for timber, and to make way for corn, wheat, and vegetables, contained not only a wealth of healthy food, but created a strong, resilient, and bio-diverse environment for people, animals, and plants a-like.   

 

Balsam Savanna is an edible forest garden project which seeks to emulate the great richness of the forest.  We are converting a field which was used only for hay and straw into an intensively managed food forest near Parry Sound, Ontario.  

 

Inspired by the works of J.Russel SmithMasanobu Fukuoka, Bill Mollison, as well as local tradition, this food forest is being managed for complexity, diversity, and self-sufficiency.  

 

 

 

 

The project has three main goals: Growth, Learning, and Health.  

 

Growth

Goal: To grow food in a way which also strengthens the environment and communities.

  • Coming together around a table, or fire: preparing the harvest: eating and drinking in groups... the coming together to feast, in is in some ways infinity old.
  • Plant, harvest, experiment with, and promote nut trees and native foods.  Nuts were a staple crop in Ontario for people for at least 11,000. Plants such as chokecherry, hawthorn, currants, gooseberries, wild leeks and garlic, and many more thrive in our climate yet due to lost cultural knowledge, destructive forestry practices, and a reliance on globalized food this great bounty is unharvested.  

Learning

Goal: to learn about land management which creates stronger and more resilient landscapes, embodies carbon, replenishes ground water, provides abundant food, and uses as much as possible native perennial plants and trees.  

  • How did ancient peoples use and manage the landscape in Ontario? This involves the study of ethnobotany, but also conversation with community members to learn of local traditions and practices
  • Agroforestry and multi-story agriculture 
  • Symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationships that promote diverse insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals

 

 

 

Health

Goal: To foster vibrant, resilient, and diverse lands and people

  • Internally we seek to develop calmness, acceptance, joy, and compassion within our selves
  • Externally we seek to foster vibrant, resilient, and diverse environments.
  • Eating fresh locally grown food 
  • Composting and recycling
  • Explore Terra preta and the mycorrhiza