I have been an armchair permaculturalist for many years, leafing through photographs of dirt lots transformed into gardens of eden, dreaming of one day turning my yard into a thriving ecosystem of gourmet stature. This Spring I committed to taking my dream out of the house and into the yard.

Permaculture emphasises edible forestry and so I decided to start by planting berry and nut trees. I wanted trees that had been selected for the palatability and generosity of their harvests as well as their hardiness and disease resistance, but all I found locally were trees grown for their “landscape potential,” so I googled. (BTW, if anyone knows of a good local nursery, please comment.)

After looking through a few sites, I settled on Rhora’s Nut Farm and Nursery. Their web-site is an ode to nut trees.  These people clearly love what they do.  They treat trees as parts of communities of organisms, offering bags of inoculant containing the spores of helpful mycorrhizal fungi specific to each species of tree, and warning against the use of pesticides. Although their trees grow in Niagara, the idea of shipping trees to Ottawa did not seem to faze them, so I picked some trees, set a shipping date and waited. (For those of you who might be curious, I ordered 1 swiss stone pine, 3 elders, and 2 bush hazels.)

Yesterday my six trees arrived in a cardboard box, packed with damp shredded newspaper, postmarked the day before. As per the instruction sheet I rushed to get them into the ground, mixing the innoculant with the soil as I went and watering them deeply when I was finished. I was a bit nervous about last night’s sub-zero temperatures, but aside from one of the elders, the trees seem to be unscathed. If all goes well my six trees will grow up and in a few years they’ll start bearing fruit and there will be one more local source of food for my household and the households of my furred and winged neighbour.

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