Mimicking Nature

Food Forest

Nature grows forests with no inputs. Nobody is fertilizing or spending hours weeding a forest. So why do we do this for our gardens?

Why a Food Forest

Who fertilizes a forest? Who keeps it watered? Who painstakingly removes weeds?

Nobody. And yet forests can support life, and have a variety of harvests we can take from them. So what if made a garden that mimicked how a forest grew? Turns out indigenous peoples of every continent have been practicing this successfully, but it’s finally making a resurgence as a viable way to grow food at scale while drastically reducing the negative impacts of industrial farming.

What is a Food Forest?

A food forest is a diverse planting of edible plants that grow in layers, much like a natural forest. Rooted in permaculture principles, food forests aim to create a self-sustaining environment where plants, trees, and animals thrive together, providing an abundance of food with minimal human intervention.

The layers of a food forest typically include:

  1. Canopy Layer: Tall fruit and nut trees that provide shade and habitat.
  2. Understory Layer: Smaller trees and large shrubs, such as dwarf fruit trees and berry bushes.
  3. Shrub Layer: Medium-sized shrubs, including various berry bushes.
  4. Herbaceous Layer: Perennial herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
  5. Ground Cover Layer: Low-growing plants that spread across the ground.
  6. Rhizosphere Layer: Root crops and tubers that grow underground.
  7. Vertical Layer: Climbers and vines that grow up trees and structures.

Each layer plays a crucial role in creating a balanced ecosystem, ensuring nutrient cycling, water retention, and habitat for beneficial insects and animals.

The Plan

We cleared some existing forest and then we planted a variety of pioneer species to build up our soil and support our main canopy layer which will be a variety of nut trees. Underneath these huge nut trees will be lots of herbaceous plants (mint, lemon balm, anise hyssop, red, crimson and white clovers, comfrey, dandelion, oregano, thyme, beans, rhubarb, alfalfa, rhye, oats, daikon radish etc), with mixed berry bushes (currant, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, haskap, goji berry etc), and fruit trees like apples and pears.