Food forest: Shelburne County resident has lots of plans on his menu

Published on March 14, 2017

Mike Kelley plants one of his first fruit trees last year.


SHELBURNE, N.S. – With rising costs of fresh fruits and vegetables and the prevalence of childhood obesity and diabetes, one local Shelburne County resident is hoping to grow a community-use food forest.

Mike Kelley purchased his five-acre, 250-year homestead in Sable River with the thought of growing fresh fruits and vegetables.

But rather than keep all that goodness to himself he is planning to open up his soon-to-be orchard – Hummingbird Lane Community Forest – to the community.

Last spring he started a Go Fund Me page to purchase the first of his trees. He planted 10 and hopes to expand it to more over the years.

“It will be open and free,” said Kelley.  “What I really want is to see kids coming through and picking from the ground and trees and eat fresh foods that are pesticide free and organic.”

A March 11 posting on the Facebook page says: "A new season is quickly coming upon us, and visions of fruiting and flowering trees nestled in beds of fragrant perennial herbs and veggies come to mind as I look out at the thawing ground and receding snows. The market will be prioritized this spring, with the lot leveled and gravel laid, and a hope of 4 booths built for an open free table market for our community growers and crafters. Hedges of goji berry, hanging trellises of Groundnut and hardy kiwi will line a path entering what will be the food forest, where edibles will will be free for the picking as young hands explore the delights of a landscape designed and nurtured for health, learning and inspiration."

Working on the grounds last year.

Kelley hopes the idea will grow so that when people see what is possible they will start growing fruiting trees and vegetables in their yards.

“There is a big problem with food security,” said Kelley.  “There is a lot we can be doing locally.”

He said there is something wrong when people go to a grocery store and a bag of chips can be purchased for $1 but a bag of apples costs $6.

“It’s a shame,” he said.  “We try to buy the best foods we can for our kids.”

His community orchard might take four or five years to start producing.

Meanwhile, he plans are to also start a local market in his yard.

“There are so many people crafting and growing here and don’t have a place to sell them,” he said.

He is hoping to spread the word so that there can be a vibrant market space in Sable River. Kelley said the rental tables at the market would be free as well.

As a part of his plan he would like to see excess food go to food banks and church programs, and to also incorporate student volunteering and education on cultivating and growing.

He is still hoping for some community support to help his idea grow.

“I have the land. I have the vision, knowledge and energy to make it happen. But a forest without the trees is hardly a forest, and a market without tables and signage is hardly a market,” he writes on his GoFundMe page.

For more information visit the Facebook page Hummingbird Lane Community Market and Food Forest: