Now planted, Beckwith Township is building an “edible park” of heritage apples, plum trees, cherry trees, butternut trees and currants within Beckwith Park as a legacy project.
A plot of over one-acre in size is being cultured to grow nine varieties of apples, three types of plums and three kinds of cherry trees that local historians say were known to grow in the area. Species were selected from a list of more than 50 heritage trees in an effort to appropriately represent life in Beckwith 150 years ago.
The edible park project will serve the community for generations to come. “It’s part of our culture in Beckwith,” Reeve Richard Kidd says “…every homestead had an orchard. This new Edible Park is a reflection of our heritage”.
A small mixed plantation provided multiple harvests that served a family throughout the year. In late July, Yellow Transparent apples would be the first crop harvested to make applesauce. Later, Northern Spy apples were collected for cooking and baking. In fall, McIntosh apples were gathered to store over the colder months. Lastly, butternuts and currants would be saved for Christmas dinner.
“With the excitement around local food, the Edible Park will bring new interest to the Lanark County Harvest Festival held annually at Beckwith Park,” says Marie White, Lanark County Tourism Manager.
The apple varieties for the Edible Park include McIntosh, Northern Spy, Duchess, Fameuse (Snow), Golden Russet, Lobo, Spartan, Wolf River and Yellow Transparent. Plum trees will include Green Gage, Ontario Plum and Damson, and the cherry varieties are Montmorency, Elegant and Galaxy. Special thanks to John Kidd and Dorothy Lewis for their historical input into the variety selection.