Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 24, 2024
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A Forested Park

A dry, sun-parched field and a rickety play structure are nothing but a memory at Macaulay Village
<p>Supporters, advocates and volunteers join at the official opening of the new London Avenue Park. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)</p>
Supporters, advocates and volunteers join at the official opening of the new London Avenue Park. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The  Grand Opening of the London Avenue Park last weekend saw the planting of a Miyawaki-method miniature forest alongside shrubs and trees. 

The occasion was a testament to what an engaged group of people, united in their mission, and firm in their resolve, can accomplish.

“This park has become the heart of this wonderful community,” Jennifer Hunter said during Saturday’s gathering. “Over the last three years, it has really come to life thanks to a partnership with amazing people and organizations.”

Ms. Hunter spoke on behalf of her employer, Prince Edward Learning Centre, and as a Macaulay Village resident. She is one of those who, behind the scenes, poked and prodded the municipality, found donations, and secured grants to bring the vision to life. 

Dibbits Landscape Supply, Devries Site Services, Always Built Wright Landscape Construction, Silkstone Group and Taskforce Engineering all ensured the grounds were ready for beautification efforts.

A TD Friends of the Environment Foundation grant for $10,000 paid for many of the native species trees and shrubs planted by Greenman Tree Service, PEC Master Gardeners, the PEC Field Naturalists, Tree the County, Terra Vista Landscape Supply, and Edwin County Farms.

“Finally this park has come to life through the voices of the residents who live here and simply wanted a place to gather,” Ms. Hunter said. “Since the play and shade structures were put up last fall, this park has been full of kids non-stop.”

The first planting. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Ms. Hunter credited the municipality and county staff for their enthusiastic help. She also pointed to the efforts of Victoria Taylor and Bailey Austin-Macmillan, both of Victoria Taylor Landscape Architect Studio, who lent their knowledge and know-how to ensure the right species and the proper planting methods for the greenery.

The park was outfitted with a new play set as well as a shade structure earlier this year. The equipment came from the Kinsmen Club of Picton and the United Way-Hastings-Prince Edward. The shade space already serves several community gatherings, including weekly Art Kitchen sessions hosted by the Department of Illumination.

A Micro Forest

Assisted by Ms. Hunter’s twin daughters Sophie and Elizabeth, Mayor Ferguson planted an oak tree, part of the Miyawaki-method micro forest.

A Miyawaki forest is named in honour of the Japanese botanist who pioneered the technique of dense forest planting in small plots of land. Young trees grow quickly to protect one another, and they prevent sunlight from hitting the forest’s ground. That means parasitic plants cannot grow.

“It’s a hyper dense natural forest using species that would typically grow here,” said municipal environmental technician Mitchell Lowe. He pointed to canopy trees, as well as the sub-canopy and shrub-level plantings that grow quickly in competition with one another. A dense forest improves air quality and stormwater retention, and reduces the urban heat-island effect. 

“A Miyawaki forest offers the same benefits of a full forest but in a parkland setting,” he added.

Mayor Steve Ferguson recalled visiting the site in August 2022 and seeing the immense potential — and the dreary reality of the park. 

“I’m so appreciative to be here today and see this vision become a reality,” he said. “This is what Prince Edward County does so beautifully and so well: when there’s a need, people gather, figure out how to address it, they pitch in and what you see before you is what happens.”

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 26 edition of The Picton Gazette
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