Monday, February 17, 2014

A Forest for the Community

Tied Knot in the Community Forest
A Village on the edge of the Beaufort Range. Renown for its eclectic music scene and incredible mountain biking, along with just enough rednecks to keep the industrial town feeling to it. A former coal mining town, now mostly a bedroom community for the larger centers of Courtenay and Comox, as well as Campbell River and Mt. Washington Ski Resort. Our real estate is a little more affordable, the schools are within walking distance of most all who attend, and it is still okay to stop on main street and chat with another vehicle! We have a butcher, a baker and probably more than one candlestick maker! This is Cumberland, this is where I live, and have so for over eight years. This community has been a blessing and tried my patience, but there is one place within its boundaries that I will always have in my heart. The Cumberland Community Forest!
The Village is surrounded by privately owned land, the keepers of this expanse are forestry companies. They are in the business of cutting timber and selling it when prices are high and cost of cutting it is conducive with the harvest. They love land that is close to town, because costs of moving equipment, logs and men is lower with less kilometers traveled. As we in the village are fortunate to have these great lands available at our doorstep, they are at the whim of the market when they will be harvested. In the years I have been frequenting them, most of the lower down second growth has been cut, leaving scars on the landscape that will take many decades to re-grow. The forest companies are very hospitable to the locals however, helping to open up mountain bike trails as well as allowing for recreational access to these lands. A very nice gesture on the part of the company who does not need to be such a good corporate citizen.
Snowshoeing "Buggered Pig"
In 2000, faced with the imminent logging of some of the closest lands to the Villages southern boundary, a group, The Cumberland Community Forest Society, was formed to raise funds to purchase the block. The first block of 71 hectares was bought for 1.2 million, placed in a covenant and gifted to the Village to be a park for perpetuity. This was all done by private donations, corporate donations, and fund raising. No tax dollars were used in the purchase, and now there is a gift for future generations.
Delicious Lobster mushroom
Fast forward to 2014, and we are facing three other areas that are up for harvest in 2016. These are also close to the Village, and comprised of 50 hectares in total. Some of these lands contain parts of the Japanese town historical site, as well as several more of the early mountain bike trails, like Black Hole and Space Nugget. I know that this will come together and the fund raising goals will be met! This little community has great spirit, and I commend that. From plant sales, trivia nights, local merchant donations and monthly personal contributions, a large hurdle can be overcome with sheer determination and will.
Chantrelle mushrooms

As I reflect back of the years since I have been visiting the community forest, dating back to about 2006, I came to realize how much this land means to me. With thoughts of building resilient backyard food forests at the top of my agenda, I have this amazing place that I can observe interactions with plants and trees. Succession of flora and the fungi that breaks it down. The animals that call its death and re-birth home. Rotten logs that are grocery stores for woodpeckers, alders giving its fiber to the oyster mushroom, and beautiful frogs living among the detritus, waiting to ambush a slug.
The fairy houses on Tied Knot
Personally these lands have healed my spirit and served as a classroom for myself and my daughter. It was a place of peace after the ending of a relationship, having micro adventures to bring joy into a gloomy era. I mapped the seemingly never ending trail network in my mind, and brought the dog on many random wanders in the woods. I taught myself the differences between the conifers and photographed and observed many species of mushrooms, harvesting more that one meal of delicious chantrelle and oyster mushrooms. My daughter came with me on many these voyages, and she was quizzed about the flora species. She now knows more than most adults of the identifying features of trees, shrubs, ferns and fungus. These were the trails I cut my teeth mountain biking, a pastime that has alluded me as of late, but will be back to it this spring. These days we are learning about traditional archery, and these forests serve our "hunting" grounds, the well rotted stumps of long harvested trees representing deer, bears and Sasquatch! More quality family time out of doors.
Family fun!
This Community Forest is Cumberlands Zone 4, the mingling of human influence and wilderness. We see evidence of human interaction with bike trails, wild food harvesting, some domestic plants and, unfortunately, trash. This forest is also the home to wildlife, vast expanses of unbroken canopy, true forest succession and naturally occurring water flows. I am a proud supporter of this cause, one of a few that I find are that important and does the most with the donation. I urge you, dear reader, to help out how ever you can. Become a monthy donor, buy a CD, attend the plant sales, or if your are financially unable, just spread the word, take photos, bring your children and help them experience the woods. That is what they are there for.

My goal with Primal Forest Gardens is to build this business based on Permaculture Ethics and Principles. So it is, the third ethic is "Return of Surplus" which has many meanings, and in this case, I will return some surplus capital to the Community Forest, among other worthy causes that I believe in. To all Cumberland residents, if you wish to ask me for a consultation, I will donate $10 dollars from each one to the Society. I thank you for reading and hope to inspire you to think about what this worthy cause means to you!

If you like what I am trying to accomplish, please share this on your various social media outlets. I really want to help make this a better world for future generations. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @primalforestgdn


  1. So enjoyed our walks through this beautiful area. Reminiscent of the woods "up the logging road" that I enjoyed as a child and young adult. Almost magical.

  2. The forest is a magical place for sure. The woods have been in my blood since birth I think:) but you knew that lol!