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Renowned food forestry expert proud to have published new book on his passion
An Osoyoos man who has dedicated his life to “food forestry” by growing healthy and nutritious food and herbs is thrilled to have published a book about his life experience.
Richard D. Walker is the proud author of Food Forestry North of the 49th, which chronicles his 40-plus years of experience as a farmer, herbalist and food forester.
“The book is a combination of being semi-autobiographical as well as a ‘how-to’ in terms of the food forestry movement,” said Walker, who was born and raised in Alberta, but has lived in southern B.C. since 1985, including the past several years in Osoyoos.
Walker spent his early years as an organic farmer in Tofield, a small town not far from Edmonton. He and his parents grew specialty crops and practiced animal husbandry.
In 1985, he moved to Grand Forks and over the next 20 years, transformed a degraded three-acre property into the first food forest in Canada.
Now known as the Filbelly Forest, this mix of fruit and nut trees and medicinal plants continues to serve as a cold-climate edible botanical repository of note.
Walker is a founding member of the Boundary Organic Producers Association as well as the Food Foresters of Canada Society.
Because of his knowledge and experience, Walker has been asked to share his knowledge through teaching engagements and workshops across Canada over the past several years.
He is passionate and informed about soil health and its link to nutritious, diverse food, human health and sound economics.
Passing on his knowledge and skill with the food forestry movement to those who strive for food stability has been one of his greatest pleasures, said Walker.
“I love sharing all of the information that I have gathered over the years with those who share the same passion about healthy and nutritious food that I do,” said Walker.
There are now a number of large and small food forests spanning diverse climactic zones in Canada as a result of his expertise and he’s proud of that legacy, said Walker.
Walker and his wife Karin have grown their own food forest on the property they own and he’s proud of being able to grow a healthy and productive forest in one of the most arid and dry climates in the country, he said.
Walker says Food Forestry North of the 49th would not have happened without the inspiration and dedication of the many food forestry students he has had the privilege of teaching over the past number of years.
“Thank you for persisting in your quest for more knowledge of this craft,” he writes in the front of his book. “Your passion and curiosity is exactly what I needed to put pen to paper.”
Longtime friend Brian Dyson, a farmer and artist, helped a great deal in the publishing of the book as he designed the cover and layout and edited the text, said Walker.
“Without you, I would still be jotting down my thoughts on lined paper,” he said.
His partner Karin also deserves a great deal of credit for her unwavering support, hard work and creative input in bringing the book from dream to reality, he said.
Walker’s book deals with everything related to food forestry, including preparing the land to grow food and herbs, design and composition of a food forest, mapping and layoff, birds and other beneficiaries, propagation, buying tips and planting.
A separate pullout featuring the common name of all the nuts, plants and herbs he has grown over the years is also part of each book.
The book has sold well since hitting the streets a couple of weeks before Christmas, said Walker.
“I’ve sold quite a few of them at stores in Vancouver, Nelson and Trail and I’m hoping to start getting them out there in Osoyoos, Oliver and Penticton in the coming weeks.”
His original food forest in Grand Forks featured more than 400 fruit and nut trees, many which he imported from as far away as Japan, Russia and Mongolia, said Walker.
It’s possible to grow a healthy and functioning food forest on a very small parcel of land, he said.
“One of my main messages from the book is you don’t need 10 acres to grow your own food forest,” he said. “You have to work with what you have.”
Being part of the movement to ensure food stability and growing healthy and nutritious food for large numbers of people has been a remarkable journey, said Walker.
“I still never get tired of sharing my message with children and students,” he said. “It’s amazing to see their response when you inform them about the benefits of growing your own healthy and nutritious food.”
Friesen’s Publishing from Winnipeg published Walker’s book.
Walker will be the special guest as the Osoyoos Desert Society continues its Winter Program Series on Saturday, Feb. 27 between 2-4 p.m. at the Watermark Beach Resort. Walker will discuss food forestry and his new book.
Walker is expected to have numerous copies of his new book for sale during his presentation at the Watermark Beach Resort.
If you want to purchase a copy of Food Forestry North of the 49th, contact Walker at 778-437-2028 or by email at email@example.com.