Food Forests – Design modern solutions from ancient traditions

Source @ Natural – by: Isaac Harkness

The human practice of growing food from and amongst the trees goes back millennia. There are examples of food forests, or forest gardens, in Vietnam and Morocco stretching back hundreds and thousands of years respectively. Much of the east coast of North America was managed this way by the native peoples before the arrival of Columbus. Forest gardening is the most sustainable and ecological way of producing food known to man. In the past 30 years, forest gardening has become popular thanks to the efforts of dedicated people.
Forest gardening is not about just taking your annual vegetable garden and putting it into the forest. It is about designing a system based upon productive trees as the primary source of food. These include fruit and nut trees, and trees that nurture or support them. A forest garden can contain berry bushes and other shrubs. The understory contains plants such as herbs, mushrooms and vegetables that are shade or partially shade tolerant. These plants form guilds (mutually beneficial groups of plants) with the trees and shrubs to create connections that strengthen the overall resiliency of the system and to lessen or eliminate the need for outside inputs.
This is something that can be done in a backyard. These principals can be applied from small to large scale. An example of a backyard forest garden style guild is an appletree with a ring of daffodils around the drip line and a ring of comfrey around that.

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