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Food forests are anthropogenic woodland ecosystems that foster biodiversity and consist of plants useful for humans. Creating and working with a food forest is called forest gardening, and is considered a sustainable agroforestry system. Forest gardening utilizes companion planting, which intends to create mutually beneficial relationships between neighboring plants. Sustained by the delicate yet powerful balance of natural living cycles, the multiple layers of the food forest provide for each other the same way the layers of a natural forest do.
Food producing plants are but one piece of the forest gardening puzzle. Some plants are used to attract beneficial insects or birds. Others plants such as nitrogen fixing clover, act as soil builders, or simply help keep out weeds.Vines on trees, shrubs, add another layer of growing space for edible fruits such as kiwi and passion fruit. Plants support one another as they store energy in their roots for later harvest and winter storage and when properly arranged help retrieve and disperse deep lying nutrients for each other. Forest gardening is the creation of an entire system which results in an abundant forest of food.
Often an over abundance of produce leads to an ability to share beyond necessity or to turn a small profit.
Non-reliance on monoculture methods increases chances of having the proper nutrition for your local population rather than reliance on a market with varying pricing and demand for a single product.
Fewer pests, less maintenance, no chemicals.
Create wildlife habitat.
Why Grow an Edible Forest Garden?
"While each forest gardener will have unique design goals, forest gardening in general has three primary practical intentions:
- High yields of diverse products such as food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer, 'farmaceuticals' and fun;
- A largely self-maintaining garden and;
- A healthy ecosystem." - edibleforestgardens.com
|Food forest gallery|
Food Forests in the United States
The Rahma Free Health Clinic Edible Forest Snack Garden - http://www.indiegogo.com/Rahma-Free-Health-Clinic-Edible-Forest-Garden
The Rahma Forest Garden (for short) is an urban forest garden project in Syracuse, NY that will be located on the grounds of a new free health clinic that is opening this spring - bringing the mission of the health clinic outside it's doors using perennial Permaculture forest garden design - we hope this will be a model for health care sites everywhere in years to come. Providing a resilient food resource in the 'food desert' of the Syracuse south side. And contributing to the extensive green infrastructure goals of the city. A project of The Alchemical Nursery - http://www.alchemicalnursery.org
The Huntington Ranch - http://huntingtonblogs.org/theranch/2010/12/food-forest-intro/
The Huntington Ranch is a new experimental exhibit at The Huntington : Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (http://www.huntington.org/default.aspx) located in San Marino, Ca. The low maintenance food garden technique is being applied, tested and scrutinized to help evolve the food forest/gardening best practices. Reducing maintenance, creating an ecosystem with active synergies and ensuring a measured increase in soil quality are some of the main goals in the exhibit.
Wetherby Edible Forest - http://www.backyardabundance.org/AbundantLandscapes/WetherbyEdibleForest.aspx
The Wetherby Edible Forest (in Iowa City, IA) inspires our community to gather and grow healthy food in ways that rehabilitates our local ecosystems while increasing equal access to food. Join us to improve public health by regenerating our public land into an edible forest ecosystem. We work to reduce agricultural climate impact, improve our local food security, provide educational opportunities, and celebrate growing food for the benefit of all species. All food is free for harvesting and eating. No synthetic pesticides or herbicides have been applied.
Growing Food Forests in Seattle - http://www.urbanfarmhub.org/2010/03/growing-food-forests-in-seattle/
As a part of Transition Seattle - "an alliance of organizations and individuals who believe in living within the limits of the earth's resources, with healthier lifestyles, and in resilient, creative, just, and collaborative communities." This alliance goals and achievements include passing laws to secure land for sustainable food production and establishing these sustainable food production areas, organizing care taking and distribution. From food bearing street trees to urban food forests there is a growing movement in Seattle which wants to see it transformed into an urban food forest.
The Garden - A documentary on an urban food forest and it's struggle to survive in an environment of capitalistic enterprise of the poor & questionable political interests. "From the ashes of the L.A. riots arose a lush, 14-acre community garden, the largest of its kind in the United States. Now bulldozers threaten its future." - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1252486/
The Tried and Tested Forest Gardens of the World
Central American Forest Gardens -
Food forests have existed in Central America for thousands of years. The El Pilar Forest Network (http://www.mayaforestgardeners.org/forestgardening.php) continues this tradition today.
"We often think of the rainforest as untouched by humans, or "virgin forest." In reality, it can be understood as the garden of the ancient Maya: the product of millennia of management by forest gardeners who cultivated the cycle of milpa, forest garden, and forest. In fact, 90% of plants in the forest are useful to humans, indicating considerable human influence. The Maya Forest remains the second most biodiverse place in the world (the Amazon forest is the first). The legacy of the ancient Maya forest gardeners is continued by the Maya farmers of the El Pilar Forest Garden Network."
Amazonian Food Forest -
The tribes of Ancient Amazonia lived within vast "garden cities" with shaping the landscape to suit sustain themselves while simultaneously enriching the already fertile soil. It appears much of the apparently useful planting utilized by the indigenous tribes found within the Amazon rain forest have been predetermined by ancient civilizations. The Amazon is today is subject record logging, oil pollution and many other externally guided influences of recource depletion and ecosystem degradation.
"Forest Garden plots are to be found in various research trials... ...and in small yards throughout the temperate world. A number of studies have looked at forest gardens in the humid tropics, and they can be a significant source of minerals and nutrients, as well as providing income and food security for the owners. Forest Gardens appear in many different societies in the wet tropics and go under various names including: Home gardens in Kerala in South India, Nepal, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania; Kandyan Forest Gardens in Sri Lanka; huertos familiares, the "family orchards" of Mexico; and pekarangan, the gardens of "complete design", in Java." -wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Gardening
Bill Mollison - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Mollison
David Holmgren - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Holmgren
Geoff Lawton - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Lawton
Sepp Holzer - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepp_Holzer
Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way starring Geoff Lawton - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1792050/combined
Amazon Rainforest was Giant Garden City - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3350474/Amazon-rainforest-was-giant-garden-city.html
Tropical Forest Gardening - http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Tropical_forest_gardening/
Chevron Found Guilty in Amazon Pollution Case - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mitch-anderson/chevron-found-guilty-in-a_b_823864.html
Amazon Deforestation - http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/amazon/