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A food forest is sort of a perennial garden blended with an orchard all set up in one fantastic system that requires minimal effort to grow and produces large amounts of food.  Sounds pretty good, right?

If you look around in a forest, you notice that the plants, animals, and insects all grow together in a balanced ecosystem that survives and carries on without intervention from people.  All of the creatures have benefical relationships with other creatures and they can even help each other grow or protect each other from other creatures.  They all grow and thrive withoutour help.  So why couldn’t a garden grow that way?

That is wht a food forest does.  It is full of perennial food sources that were set up by people to function as a natural ecosystem and therefore needing far less human intervention to supply abundant amounts of food for the people and all of their friends.

The idea is that you set it up once, puting tons of hard work planning the arrangement of the forest and strategically planting everything in beds set up to last for years to come, and then, once established, sit back and watch it grow.  You will have to do some minimal upkeep, like pruning, and you will have to collect your harvest.  A perfect addition to my homesead.

A food forest is made up of many layers, each consisting of a different type of plant.  These layers start with ground cover, includes bushes and vines, and goes up to the tall trees of the canopy.  By spacing the trees farther apart than you would need to, you allow small amounts of light through so the lower layers can grow more efficiently.

You also heavily incorporate the outer edges of the food forest in your production area.  You can plant the larger trees and more shade tolerant plants towards the center of the food forest and radually plant shorter and shorter sun loving shrubs and plants around  the edge of your forest.

After a few years of growth, you will have more food in production that you could ever hope to eat.  Plenty of food to share.  That should free up your gardening time to do all the other projects on the honey do list.  Or you could hang a hammock on your apple trees and take a little rest…

(More detailed explainations of the layers coming in the near future)

Check out these links for more information:

Permaculture Research Institute

Permaculture Apprentice

Edible Forest Gardens

Permaculture Institute

Winslow Food Forest

I encourage anymore who has a post on their own blog about food forests to share it in the comments.  The more information the better!



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