so while I will share the offical seven layers of the basic idea of a “Food Forest“. I am also going to take this back to Farmgal first hand experance because it turns out that what I have been making for the past eight years as a “Food Producing Mixed Hedgerow” that surrounds the whole front yard is in fact with very little tweeking a working food forest.
So I have mixed it up just a touch from the things listed above and I will explain why, so my own personal being created and added and growing personal food forest (don’t you just love to find out that there are “names” given to things you are already doing) is based on creating mixed producing hedgerows.. I am going to make the worst hand drawing possable but it will still show you what I have been working on, and later this year, I will do a follow up to show different parts of the yard itself.
So the front yard is around 3/4 of a acre, and it came with two big spruce, one huge overgrown crab, two massive willow tree’s and one popular tree..and the rest was in natural grass and cut short, it has a natural slope down to a area that drains and can and does stay fairly wet more of the year (which we are slowly turning into a cranberry producing bog)
So this is the basic’s of what we have now.. I know, I know, I can’t draw worth a darn but it gets the general idea, which is that we have a two row system around 2 full sides, the front and the field side, we have filled in both top’s of the area with fruit and a few nut tree’s, we have planted another spruce in between the two big ones and then added in a number of small tree’s and bushes, we have dug out in the wet area and put whole peatmoss bales in and allowed them to soak and then worked to create and grow a natural cranberry bog in that area.
Now we are limited on the heights on the edges, on the front we are limited because it has the power line, so all the bigger fruit or flowering tree’s have been carefully picked that they fit under the line even full grown, and on the field side, we have stayed mostly to bushes (the biggest will get 15 or so feet high) as we are in farm country and there are rules and regs about placing bigger tree’s that close to the farm fields with the roots moving into Farmer R’s fields, so the semi and dwarf fruit tree’s are placed in the yard raither then in the food producing hedgerows.
The hedgerows high fruit tree’s are mainly Elderberries, High Bush Cranberries, Pincherries, Saskatoon, the blooming higher bushes are hedge Lilac, the smaller bushes are a mix of currents, black chokeberry, Gooseberries, honey berries, Currents, Josta Berries, Blue Berries Black Berries, Black Rasberry, Red Rasberry, and Yellow Rasberry, Wild Rose Bushes, they are under planted with a mix of garlic, herbs, healing or eating flowers, mints, strawberries, Lily’s, we are working to grow a sunchoke patch.
The only thing we are really lacking is the climbing vines and the root veggies, I am not certain that its really effecting the overall ability of the system but I can certainly add them in this season and see if it improves or has an effect.
Now I would love to tell you that I was working to create a 3/4 acre of food forests but that would be a fib, I can honestly tell you that I was determined from the start to make that area a “wild” food producing area, that everything that has been bought, or found and transplanted or split and put out into that area has always had a eye on can it be eaten, can it be used herbally, can it be used, if it can’t or does not produces something I consider as a “working” plant, it didn’t get put there by me.
I’m not saying that there is not some pretty flowers in there but they are all natural and they showed up on their own 🙂 So do you have a area that folks think is “wild” but in truth is loaded! with food producing tree’s, bushes, plants and groundcover?
It’s definitely an interesting idea. I shall have to read more on it. My biggest question, I guess, is how this affects stuff like harvesting? I would expect it’s a lot more work to dig through and find food, or maybe I’m misunderstanding the concept? And the second is, how do food forest advocates fit livestock animals into the equation?
It makes harvesting just like you would if you wild crafted, you learn where everything is and you learn how its harvested, which means depending on the item you would harvest only a limited certain amount, leaving the rest to grow back and come again, or leaving a certain amount for the wildlife, in that way, in that way, it is quite different to a point then a more tradional garden, I would certainly want to have both.
As for the second, I have not seen them talking about how livestock fits in, but for my own use, my answer is very lightly, I use my birds as a bug patrol but they are given very timed limited access, the same is given to either the sheep or the cow, and they are used to keep down my mini meadow area’s and are staked out and not allowed free range at this time.
Re-Pressed this article, cheers and thanks
(although you already knew that 🙂