Cowichan Green Community Food Forest

A food forest appears on a steep slope between two parking lots.

Project Details

Cowichan Green Community
Duncan, BC
62 m
1039 mm
Cowichan Green Community
Instructor, Project Consultant
Community, Food Forest, Not-for-profit


I was asked to introduce a group of food forest trainees to permaculture, food forestry and regenerative agriculture. During the educational segment I assisted with the conceptual design and, later, with additional teaching and consulting along the way. The trainees created the final design of the site, including access, pathways, major plant placements and features, then completed the installation with the help of volunteers and members of Cowichan Green Community.


A very steep slope (60%), getting materials onto the site, and integrating local businesses with site access pathways were the main challenges. Increasing visibility of the site meant trying to increase the profile of the site with a very small space. Also, the design included a small parking lot section that had no direct sun, would be surrounded by vehicles, and needed to be designed for potential foot traffic across it.

Key Elements

  • Strip parking lot garden bed with shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plants hardy to traffic
  • Very public and visible food forest with strawberry waterfall and prolific cultivars
  • Innovative use of upper parking lot to drop off mulch and other materials (wheelbarrow down, never up)
  • Visual appeal and community integration enhanced by art garden to showcase work by local artists
  • Shade areas utilized for mushroom beds and a 20-ft retaining wall with shade-loving Kolomikta kiwi vines
  • North slope planted with shade-tolerant greens, berries and other perennials, with fruit trees at top


THRIVING. In this incredible food forestry demonstration, you can’t take three steps without finding a ton of food - stepping over it, around, everywhere. Amazing job by the volunteers, staff and supporters of the Cowichan Green Community Urban Food Forest.

If you're interested in learning more about this project there is a summary publication for sale.

How to grow a community food forest guide.


I popped by while in the area and was astounded at the incredible growth and beauty of this site... in OCTOBER of all times. My hat is off to the crew at Cowichan Green Community for keeping this site moving along.