More on Food Forest: Why and How to Create One

As we have shown in our last article, a food forest is a very common process in biological and permaculture farms, for it provides a sustainable food method. But there is much to talk about when it comes to food forests, which is why, if you were not convinced by the last article, we decide to bring you a new one on this topic, by Wilderness College!

“How does it work?

Permaculture food forests rely heavily on “polyculture” versus monoculture production. Polycultures can be understood as dynamic, self-organizing plant communities composed of several or many species. In this approach, plants are grown in groups known as “guilds” which support each other through various different functions. Guilds are a harmoniously interwoven group of plants and animals that are of benefit to humans while also creating habitats for other organisms.

It helps to take a look at the concept of a food forest by looking at what kinds of relationships can exist around a single tree. For instance, below an apple tree, you could plant white and red clover to help fix nitrogen, comfrey to act as a dynamic accumulator which brings up nutrients from deeper down and makes them available to the other plants, tulips, chives and daffodils to attract beneficial insects and repel unwanted pests and suppress grass at the tree’s base. All work in harmony to benefit each other, and the apple tree.

Although not all plants are directly edible by humans, they all function together to bring in the larger cycles of nature to create a healthier permaculture food forest landscape.

Why make one?

The benefits of creating a permaculture food forest are many! The most obvious one might be that if properly planned out, a permaculture food forest practically runs and maintains itself. It creates a habitat for local wildlife, pest control, pollination and wildlife viewing opportunities. Since permaculture food forests do not require chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they produce much healthier foods and products. These benefits might include products such as fibres, fuels, green manure, materials for crafts, and food for domestic animals and can help reduce water usage in the garden.

The way you garden is a reflection of your world view. This more harmonious approach to nourishing people also provides nourishment for the earth. It allows you to achieve a means of more independence from the more destructive modern agricultural methods, while at the same time providing you with a more direct relationship to and deeper understanding of the interdependence that is required to support all life.”

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