I live in an intentional community in central-rural VA, and am currently working on writing a proposal for a small experimental forest garden area. the plot I am hoping to use is a fallow space that is about 1/15th-20th of an acre, if I had to guess. it is surrounded by hay fields.
I feel as though there may be some resistance, as those that 'manage' (we don't really have managers here, but people who have worked in the garden for a number of years) seem to be uninterested in trying new methods of gardening. We co-own a prominent heirloom seed business, so some of the folks here have been at it for a very long time. There is a lot of interest in these gardening methods, but I would just like to swing this in a way where everyone would be excited for it.
My hope is simply to have this area be dedicated to ecological food-producing abundance. I am interested mostly in tree crops, perennials and mushrooms. I would like to design it in a way where at some point in its maturation, it could serve to be a nice quiet spot away from the bustle of the community's areas of congregation.
A loose plan I have is to start with a small nucleus at the center of the plot, which will be layered up lasagna-style with some additional inputs like maybe a hugelkultur bed. As resources become available (as they do consistently) it would spread outward in an easy to navigate pattern, with perhaps a nice area to simply be in.
my one issue is though I have lots of exposure to annual crops in my life here at the IC, I don't know too much about different types of perennials, which I have a strong interest in learning about. Are hugel beds well suited for supporting perennial varieties? Another silly question - has anyone attempted planting trees in a hugel bed? (my intuition says that a shallower, wider basin-like 'hugel' would be best.. if viable at all) I would be curious to know if anyone has any favorites or recommendations that would experience success in our mid-atlantic region. any other input, questions, comments? I welcome all feedback.
Personally I find circular designs resonate with me, although in the past I have enjoyed rectangular designs in the style of French Decorative food gardens, now my gardens are all turning to circular shapes. You can put a seat in the center and if you're into spiritual space, an altar or other meditative focal point.
thanks for that great link, Ludi. I am certainly in favor of more 'organic' patterns in gardening rather than the conventional and accepted 'traditional' methods. A lot of these look/sound appealing based on the research I've done, and I've spent some time reading about perennial edibles but have had little personal experience with them. Do you have any favorites out of these?