Tree Farmer - November/December 2010 - (Page 42)

sharing your experiences By “Food Forest” vauGHan Australian author Bill Mollison elaborates on the concept in his books, Introduction to Permaculture and Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. His favorite example of this principle is the “forest garden” of Robert Hart of Shropshire, England, the author of Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape, among other books on sustainable living. Hart discovered that maintaining a large garden, an orchard, and livestock was too much work for a couple of landowners with limited means. So he turned his eight-acre plot into a “food forest.” After observing how nature layers her forests, Hart divided the forest structure into seven layers: 1. A “canopy” layer consisting of the larger fruit and nut trees. 2. A “low-tree” layer of smaller nut and fruit trees such as serviceberry or those on dwarfing root stocks. 3. A “shrub layer” of bushes such as currants, blueberries, and chinquapin. 4. An “herbaceous layer” of perennial vegetables such as sweet cicely and herbs such as rosemary. 5. A “ground cover” layer of edible plants that spread horizontally, such as subterranean clover or oregano. 6. A “rhizosphere” or “underground” dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers, such as groundnut (Apios americana) for the edible tuber. 7. A “vertical” layer of vines and climbers, such as kiwis, or ground-nut, for its beans. Introducing edible and medicinal mushrooms to the mulch or inoculating pruned wood adds yet another layer to Hart’s concept, and helps to rapidly break down wood chips and other cheap sources of organic matter, readily available on most Tree Farms. Mushrooms also create mycorhizal associations with the food plants that prevent fungal attacks and improve the plant’s ability to find and absorb water and nutrients. Mushrooms (edible, decomposers with mycorhizal association) and ground-nut (edible tuber and bean, nitrogen fixer) are great examples of one of Mollison’s principles of permaculture that greatly helps with saving space and providing food in smaller systems: stacking functions. If a feature in a design, whether living or structural, serves more than one function it does more work for the space it occupies and resources it consumes. This approach mimics the way ecosystems work in nature. Prickly pear serves as a great example of a plant doing double-duty in my garden. The structure of the plant will serve to keep my chickens in and dogs and other terrestrial chicken predators out. Meanwhile, its flower petals, new growth, old pads, seeds, and fruit produced each year can all be used as food. And the aesthetic quality of canary-yellow flowers in spring and royal-purple fruit in fall? Exquisite. create a Spearman while attending the recent national Tree farmer Convention in vermont, I overheard several people say something to the effect of: “my forest feels like an extension of my garden, larger, but only needing occasional care. I weed it and care for the soil, it’s just on a larger scale.” This idea begins to hint at what many Tree farmers know already: properly functioning forest ecosystems are the most productive ecosystems on Earth. A new Take on an old concept Food forestry is an old concept refined. Hart was most inspired by the house gardens in the 3,000-year-old city of 42 International Year of Forests, 2011 Tree Farmer NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tree Farmer - November/December 2010

Tree Farmer - November/December 2010
How to Develop an Investment Strategy
Buyer’s Guide & Resource Directory
Associations & Organizations
Communication – Satellite Phones & GPS
Consulting Foresters & Managers
Co-op Resources
Equipment Financing
Fertilizers, Herbicides & Repellents
Financing & Credit
Forest Appraisal, Analysis & Management
Forest Measuring Instruments & Software
GPS & Satellite Phones
Land Sales
Portable Sawmills
Pressure Treated Products
Real Estate Brokers
Seeds & Seedlings
Specialized Excavating for Erosion Control
Supplies, Gifts & Apparel
Timber Buyers & Loggers
Timber Pricing Services
Tools & Equipment
Trail Layout & Construction
Tree Paint & Markers
Tree Protectors & Shelters
Wood Manufacturers
Associations & Organizations
Cooperative, State Research, Education & Extension Services
Grant, Loan & Cost-Share Programs
Tree Farm State Contacts
State Foresters
Taxing Issues
Sharing Your Experiences
Ties to the Land
Sharing Your Experiences
Tools & Techniques

Tree Farmer - November/December 2010