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Adapting a food forest to the suburbs?

 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 1887
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Hi Geoff,
How would you change what you talk about in Food forests if you were going to make it for people in more urban/suburban situations?
Thanks
John S
PDX OR
 
Alan Stuart
Posts: 42
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You could use Dwarf, semi dwarf, or even ultra dwarf if available. I think the principals would be the same, create the layers. Maybe not with all 7, maybe just Canopy, Shrub, Herb, and if you are felling lucky vine levels. Another thing you can do to increase the amount of trees you have in a small area is espalier. You could prune trees in to fences, supports for vine plants, I've seen on example where trees where trained to grow in to a tipi for children to play in.
For the shrubs use fruiting shrubs like blueberries.
Add lots of mulch.
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
Posts: 48
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Hi John
we covered that quite well in the "Urban DVD" but our urban and suburban and perimeter urban human habitat could easily out produce global agriculture in efficiency of area use to energy in to nutrition out and almost make most of agriculture redundant except for rangeland and forestry.

Designing and re-designing of human settlement will be crucial and the re-training and job opportunities would be wonderful and massive but there is no better long-term security than perennial food systems.

Global species diversity would play a big part.

This would be possibly the turning point of human evolution.

Lets hope more people will realize this.

Cheers geoff lawton

Check out www.permaculture.org.au/permies
 
Michael James
Posts: 50
Location: Zone 5B: Grand Rapids, MI
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Geoff Lawton wrote:Hi John
we covered that quite well in the "Urban DVD" but our urban and suburban and perimeter urban human habitat could easily out produce global agriculture in efficiency of area use to energy in to nutrition out and almost make most of agriculture redundant except for rangeland and forestry.

Designing and re-designing of human settlement will be crucial and the re-training and job opportunities would be wonderful and massive but there is no better long-term security than perennial food systems.

Global species diversity would play a big part.

This would be possibly the turning point of human evolution.

Lets hope more people will realize this.

Cheers Geoff Lawton

Check out www.permaculture.org.au/permies


Quite inspiring to hear your vision and excitement for future possibilities! Go Geoff!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Here's a suburban model I like: http://www.happyearth.com.au/garden-design/
 
Allan Babb
Posts: 63
Location: Greater New Orleans, LA, USA
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My back yard is 30' x 50'. I have a 4'x16' chicken area(just north of 4 citrus, a plum and a fig tree, along with 4 blueberries, 2 Camellia sinensis, blackberries, raspberries and a banana plant) with the idea that the nutrients from the deep litter will cycle its way to the trees(it's not much of a food forest, more like a food tree line) since the ground is slightly higher under the chickens(shit rolls down hill after all). Moving further south, is the veggie bed, which is a 25' diameter mandala garden, with a herb spiral in the middle(well, future herb spiral) and the citrus trees(shiny leaves) act as a sun trap. As I move from mostly annuals to perennials, my food productivity should go up, especially when I plant out all the holes in the cinder blocks used to mark the outline of the mandala garden(for instance, I no longer plant bulbing onions, but plant multiplying scallions instead. Sweet potato is also another rampant grower in my area that can be perennialized somewhat). I've gained ~100 sqft of growing space just by moving from rectangular raised beds to a mandala design, and that's not counting the holes in the cinder blocks, or the center of the mandala garden.

While I have never estimated how much I can grow, I do know that this is not even the entire back yard yet. I still have ~450 sqft of production area left(minus pathways) and that's just in the back yard. The south strip of land(3' wide, runs to the front yard) will probably be a great place to grow some espalier trees(or maybe even grapes if I prep the soil right), especially since one side of the neighbor's roof drains right to that area(minimal irrigation along with cooling during the summer = win!).

The front yard is another 20'x20' area of grass that could easily be made productive, but I have to wait on that for a while. If you trim the fruit trees and graft different varieties onto a single tree, then you can really boost productivity. The north side of the house might grow something along the lines of food, but I'd need to get real creative there(it does get a narrow strip of sun about 3 months out of the year, long enough for tomatoes and peppers).

The thing is this, at least in my situation, you have to get creative. Espalier is an excellent example of growing trees in a limited space, while keeping some curb appeal. Make a living fence in your front yard, find a vining plant that grows well to place with them(such as grapes, malabar spinach, sweet potato(though that requires some soil disruption), or even roses) and you have the beginnings of a food forest in suburbia. It may not look quite like a forest, but it is one.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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tyler thanks for the link, i think it may prove helpful
 
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