RED TREE Project

Please consider making a donation to support the RED TREE (Rural Economic Development Through Restorative Environment Engagement) Program.  Every bit helps!

Chi Miigwech (Thankyou very Much!) for your interest and support!

The vision

The vision

The idea…

This project titled “Rural Economic Development Through Restorative Environmental Engagement  (RED TREE) is going to sustainably grow  food, products, create employment, and restore our environment by re-growing and sustainably managing forests in rural communities.



By reconnecting our communities to the natural fabric of humanityenvironments we depend upon.

Our connection to nature is threatened. We hope this project can open our eyes to the beauty and absolute importance of our natural resources, now and in the future. As is done in nature, this project seeks to reweave the connections which we have lost with our natural environments to create a beautiful and sustainable livelihood for ALL who take part: human, plant, or animal.

Saugeen Shores-

Current Partners *pending approval of seed funding through RED program

  • University of Waterloo (peer review and research)
  • University of Guelph (peer review and research)
  • University of Wisconsin Arboretum (research and restoration modelling)
  • Ontario Nature (management planning and incentivization)
  • Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) (Grey Bruce, Norfolk County)  (carbon offsetting and incentivization)
  • Grey Bruce Federation of Agriculture (education and outreach, landowner research)
  • Grey Bruce Foodlink (market linking and local product sales)
  • Saugeen First Nation (site location and community development)
  • Jonathan Forbes, Forbes wildcrafts (product sales and education)
  • Greening Australia past participants (peer reviews) (carbon offset research)
  • Bruce Power (corporate sponsor)
  • Green Feet (corporate sponsor) (project lead)
  • Trees for Saugeen (carbon offset funding and social enterprise development)
  • Bill O’keefe orchards (fruit trees)
  • The Ark Native Plants (native plant education, species selection)
  • York Region, Ian Buchanan (Biodiversity strategy and GIS modelling development)

Thanks to the interest of all our partners, who have been growing over the years! This has been almost 3 years in creation, and I thank you for your patience in getting it off and in the ground!

The Project: First phase

RED TREE will start by researching and planning the ability of using Analog Forestry on farmland to grow the resources necessary to develop a self sustaining environmental economic system in rural areas. Participants will also be involved in the sustainable management of Non Timber Forest Products in forested areas, which will also be planned, researched and practiced to help experientially educate participants on the structure and value of natural forest ecosystems.

Harvesting from restored areaFood and Products: Although this is presented as an alternative to conventional farming, this program will be growing and harvesting perennial foods to feed our communities, as well as sustainably growing and harvesting many items that people can sell and use to sustain their livelihoods.

Employment: Although the connections have been lost, this program will be seeking toWorking in the field? develop employment strategies, such as business incubators based on NTFP’s and AF, and employment through the sale of sustainably harvested products, the maintenance and planting of new forests, the processing of products, GIS mapping and management, and much more.

Environmental Restoration: Although this takes time and maintenance and a few extra steps, these planned and researched techniques will help to restore and protect ecosystems and create areas for wildlife to thrive. Although the connections have been lost over time, best of all, this work will help to connect people physically with the natural world, teaching 20131212093755-Visualpeople to understand how ecosystems work, and how we benefit from them by using things that come from them The research, planning, and establishing cooperative partnerships required to do all this is the first step in lay the groundwork making this idea a reality!


Planting a new Analog forest

Planting a new Analog forest

On the Ground:

Two things will be happening.

First is re-growing the forests using Analog Forestry. What this technique looks like on the ground is farmland or open spaces, publically or privately owned, that are converted into perennial agriculture plots containing a variety of native plants. The variety of plants used mimics the structure of a natural forest by creating Oak Guildmany layers and many networks of relationships. Each variety of plant selected can be used as non-timber forest products (NTFP’s). NTFP’s are plants that can be used as medicines, crafts, foods, syrups, etc, Not only are these young forests strong and healthy, but they are productive and valuable too. Because there are many plants grown, sustainable harvesting can take place within this strong and resilient ecosystem. This does take time, but it takes pressure off lands while still sustainably growing foods and other important resources.

An Analog Forest is VERY similar to a natural forest by encouraging LOTS of biodiversity

An Analog Forest is VERY similar to a natural forest by encouraging LOTS of biodiversity


Plots of sustainably managed harvesting

Plots of sustainably managed harvesting

The second part is to develop best

management practices to sustainably manage forests through the harvest of Non Timber Forest Products that can or are growing in these forests.

Although the harvesting of NTFP is a tricky and arguable practice, the threats to the integrity of forested ecosystems across Ontario from agriculture, logging. development, and the HUGE demand for resources far outweigh the impacts that harvesting would have, especially if proper planning and research is done to create sustainable BMPs that simultaneously encourage a connection and understanding of forest resources.

winter_spruce_top_collection_captionThis program will be using GIS mapping and modelling, creating a master database of perennial NTFP’s to help with planning and management, and will be working with elders and experts who have been working with products for much of their careers. Local businesses and restaurants will be working in partnership with this stream to help with harvesting, processing, and sales of these NTFP’s.

Spinoff lines of research

  • incentivizing reforestation and sustainable managing through tax credits, conservation easements, or funding made possibly by carbon offsetting
  • that ability to forge a market for carbon offsetting funds, which will be diverted towards these programs as offsetting credits
  • alternative small scale, off grid housing on sites to create housing solutions when paired with environmental employment in support of this program
  • alternative revenue streams that will support the funding of this program: greenhouse sales, genetic stock of productive species, seed sales, composting, etc

The Impact?


  • Food shortages across the region will be minimized
  • degraded farmland will be restored to a functioning ecological system
  • forests will be protected through incentives and community ownership
  • traditional ecological knowledge will be used with modern knowledge
  • local products will be created
  • jobs for youth and adults alike will be created
  • native trees will be reintroduced to the area
  • habitat will be created for wildlife
  • external costs for producing food will be eliminated through using ecological farming practices (analog foresty, forest gardening, agroforestry)
  • youth will be engaged during all phases of trials to learn about the environment
  • sustainable revenue sources will be forged
  • etc…

Our Future Site for this Program!

logoSaugeen First Nation is a first nation community next to Southampton Ontario who will be providing the site and community support for this program as a pilot program.

The cultural context of this First Nation community makes this partnership an ideal chance to base this program on ideas that must be re-incorporated into modern society This community is already keen to be working with traditional techniques of listening and respecting the forest, and learning the stories that are behind products from nature. They would like to provide good work for people in their community and with the help of the partners of this project (that were listed above), we will have the ability to bring much knowledge and experience together to create a lively and robust self sustaining community that is producing items made with respect to the environment, bravery to go into new market territory, wisdom from many fields, love towards the forest, humility because it is a co-operative project, acknowledging the truth of the state of our world, and an honesty in our commitment to reconnecting to the world around us.

Saugeen First Nation Amphitheater overlooking the Saugeen river

Saugeen First Nation Amphitheater overlooking the Saugeen river

We do need support to get this off the ground!

We are currently seeking dollars to pay for the planning and research of this first phase through corporate sponsors, organizations, and government sources. This planning and research is a VERY important part and we will be running trials throughout this first phase. Planting is set to begin spring of 2014

Your dollars will help with a very unique form of research that will be engaging the entire community:

  • community gatherings, sampling wild edibles, to make community members aware of what is out there to be grown and harvested
  • researching the needs of different types of plants so that we can plan some of the most beautiful and healthy planted plots possible
  • visits to events that deal with non-timber forest products
  • inviting specialists and educators to come into the community to help guide discussions and answer questions about how we can make this all happen
  • using GIS (geographic information system) to plan for managing the resources from different areas, to help with planning by using maps, and to communicate to people the value of the services that plants provide
  • planning for the creation of a unique foundation under which we can run this program, grow these fields of young forests, manage, process, and harvest the products from these forests, and educate those involved.
  • materials and plants and labor for first phase of planting of fruit, nut, and NTFP trees

Please Donate towards this project by visiting our Crowdsource funding site here:

Or you can visit our facebook page here to follow our progress:

Other Ways you can help!

Get the word out that this work is going on, RIGHT HERE, in Ontario Canada, in a small rural community with a LOT of heart and interest in bringing nature back to life!

Any knowledge about the benefits of plants, GIS modelling, wildcrafting, ecological functions or services, socially responsible investing or environmental economics, first nation cultures, or anything related to what was described above, we’d LOVE to hear from you and involve you in any way!

Thank you for your GENEROUS SUPPORT!!



3 Responses to RED TREE Project

  1. Very cool! This sounds like an excellent project! People should be doing this everywhere!

  2. Hi Amanda,
    Very nice project – I just read your website.

    I could offer knowledge about GIS modelling and environmental economics, which I did during my PhD and afterwards. Let me know what you need and how involved it would be – there are limitations on my time. If warranted, we could look for additional funding for technical work.

    Best, Thorsten

  3. Bill Moses says:

    I am a volunteer at the Inglis Falls Arboretum. We do have a good supply of native plants that are available for community projects. I would be glad to get together to show you what we are doing.

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