Along Canada’s northwest coast, ancient Indigenous forest gardens — untended for more than 150 years — continue to thrive. Ts’msyen and Coast Salish peoples once planted and cared for plots of native fruit and nut trees, shrubs, and medicinal plants and roots along the north and south Pacific coast, a new Simon Fraser University study finds. Forest gardening is a common method of food cultivation and agroforestry in Indigenous communities around the world, especially in tropical regions. But the findings published in Ecology and Society mark the first time these lush, open, orchard-like plots have been studied in North America. In coastal forest gardens, crabapple, hazelnut, wild cherry and plum trees provide a canopy, shielding plants such as cranberry, elderberry and hawthorn, wild ginger and wild rice root. Containing more species diversity than the surrounding conifer forests, according to the research, the intentionally planted patches continue to provide a significant habitat for birds, bears and pollinators. “These plants never grow together in the wild. It seemed obvious that people put them there to grow all in one spot — like a garden,” says SFU ethnobiologist and archaeologist Chelsey Geralda Armstrong , lead author of the study, in a statement […]


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