I am starting! 40 beautiful acres I plan on escaping to in 3-5 years. I need to start the food forest now. In southeast KS, lots of big oaks. My food forest spot is around 200'x 300' in a grassy area now. If I can get some suggestions on initial ground cover planting and fruit/nut trees suitable for zone 6a, I would appreciate it very much. Or even some direction on reference books. If there are any Permies in the SE KS area, I would love meetup, exchange schemes and dreams...
You have quite a few options. Ground cover really depends on the status of your soil. Clovers, alfalfa, sweet potato could be used around shrubs for a covering, field pea, vetch, and buckwheat are annuals but do wonders for your soil. There are several nut trees to choose from: pecan, butternut, walnut, chestnut, hazelnut, shagbark hickory to name a few. Fruits would include apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, cherry, and mulberry. White mulberry contains 19% protein so is good for chicken forage. It really depends on your goals on what you may want to use. I live Mid-Missouri so our plant selections would be the same.
"Renewing the Native Food Traditions of Bison Nation
This annotated list highlights certain food traditions of Bison Nation (the Great Plains) that could be restored concomitant with the restoration of free-ranging bison to large tracts of the short-grass plains and tall-grass prairies. The RAFT consortium offers this preliminary list to encourage more collaboration among conservation biologists, restoration ecologists, the Intertribal Bison Cooperative, wild foragers, hunters, chefs, nutrition educators and local food system activists. RAFT hopes that discussion of this inventory among diverse parties will eventually lead to more sustainable harvests of the unique, traditional foods of Bison Nation.
* Download Renewing the Native Food Traditions of Bison Nation (PDF 8 pages, 770K)"
Thanks for the info! Just ordered "Edible Forest Gardens" and "Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles" Should take a while to digest all that. My main concern is I believe the soil quality is poor. Hard packed and no thatch or ground cover from repreated burning. The grasses are being squeezed because of the lespadeza that is out of control. The locals tell me to spray it. I'd rather not. Goats could clean it up, but I'm not living on the land yet and it's 2 hours away, so I can't monitor it. I'm thinkin maybe mow it all short, cover with straw and mulch, let it sit over the winter and disk it up next spring, cover with straw and mulch again and plant the trees. Sadly, I'll have to surround this forest with a 6' fence, I'm in the heart of deer country...
So I'm thinking I'll disk the food forest area and cover with straw this fall, disk again next spring, plant trees and a cover crop of soybean, hairy vetch, and alfalfa and keep it mown to add cover, compost and nitrogen to the soil. In a couple years, introduce bushes. good idea?
That I can think of, which may be Native to Kansas (please, double check me):
Sand Cherry, Arkansas Wild Rose, Gooseberry, some species of Goji Berry (you'll have to look this up, but apparently there are several species native to US & Mexico, I just have no idea what yours is. Honestly, look for it under Wolf berry or Silver berry, but there is crossover in names with the latter), Buffalo Gourd (be careful where you get it from. in some places, this plant is edible & in others it's not. We're still not sure if it's different strains/ species, or the environment itself, so don't source it from Arizona & expect to be able to eat it. If you can find it locally, you should be fine), Prickly Pear Cactus, Wild Rice, some species of Groundcherry, Dewberry, some species of Serviceberry, Wild Kidney Bean, Camas, Bergamot, Blueberry, maybe some species related to Canadian Lily, some native ferns are edible, elderberry, honeylocust, Osage orange, I'm sure you have at least one species of wild onion, possibly currants, sumac, American Wintergreen, Prairie Potato
I've been cataloguing wild native foods from across North America, but not a whole lot of regional specifics outside of my home region. Definitely not Great Plains, as there's a lot of crossover. Most of the diversity there comes from unique species of the same kinds of plants, rather than entirely new plants, though there are one or two I've been made aware of.