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How many trees to support 100 people?

 
James Landreth
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Okay, let’s get into it.

As I mentioned in my post about oak trees per person, I’m involved with designing food forests for community security. I’m hoping to expand this to try to cover everyone in my area at some point, and I’m involved with advising other areas as well.

I’m going to start by saying that I know that this is a very open-ended and complex question. However, I think having goals in mind is important, and I think that thinking and talking about this kind of thing is helpful.

The world is pretty unstable, and it has been for a few years.

I’m located in the Pacific Northwest, and some of the trees I usually include are:

Oaks
Chestnut
Walnut
Hazelnut
Semi dwarf and standard fruit trees
Elderberry
Serviceberry
Alder, douglas fir (firewood/fertility/mushroom growing)
Others as well, the above being the broad main categories.

So, what are your thoughts?

If you were planting a forest to support 100 people, what would it look like? This could include for firewood and other needs, as well.

 
Megan Palmer
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I would ensure that the seedling oak tree roots are inoculated with porcini - boletus edulis and also plant birch tree seedlings similarly inoculated with leccinum scabrum, birch boletes and whatever other trees that will grow in your climate that have relationships with edible fungi.
 
Ben Zumeta
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I plant an alder, or a more drought tolerant black or honey locust where necessary, between each of the trees above. This is for soil building, and I thin them down low to allow for light and to surrounding trees and shrubs, and use this as chop and drop mulch. The tree also sheds a proportional amount of roots, feeding the soil for other plant. Ultimately I will harvest them once they are significantly crowing surrounding trees.
 
Jay Angler
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James Landreth wrote: I’m involved with designing food forests for community security. I’m hoping to expand this to try to cover everyone in my area at some point, and I’m involved with advising other areas as well.

"Community Security" can include many different things. Is your focus primarily food? You did mention firewood, but are you considering things like building material, oilseed crops for needs such as soap, candles or lantern oil, or tree fodder for animals such as sheep for clothing/bedding?

How much land might it take to grow a truly supporting ecosystem for 10 people in your ecosystem? Would that include long term being able to produce a salable product to sell or trade for things not available in your location?

I would consider an area of land designed for coppicing, as there are a great many useful products that can be made with coppiced wood more sustainably than by cutting down a whole tree.
 
Jim Fry
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Add some hickory trees, russian olive, and roses (for beauty and rose hips high in Vit. C). Wild cherry is good, because so few people know you can eat the small cherries, which are quite nutritious and good to mix with meat and fat for pemmican. You also really need as many sugar maples as you have room for. Gotta have sweetener in the diet. And at least a willow or two for aspirin and basket making. And more pines for tea, especially white pine. Somebody mentioned locust for soil building, but did you know you can eat the seeds?
 
Eino Kenttä
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Okay, I'm very fond of fat, so I'd say plant all the species of fatty nuts that will grow in your area. Hazelnuts, hickory, walnuts and white pines were mentioned. How about Torreya nucifera and T. californica? They should grow okay there. Others? Aren't there oaks with fatty acorns? Hazel bushes at least are also good for firewood, since they coppice so well.

Also, don't forget water. A pond or similar would work as an emergency water source, and enable growing some interesting water/wetland plants, like cattails, wapato, lotus, maybe wild rice? Don't know what's appropriate in your area. Also, if big enough it could be used to keep fish, crayfish etc that would look after themselves until you needed to eat them. Of course, digging a pond is a bit more work, but since it's for a hundred people it might be worth the effort.
 
Greg Martin
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I would add Kentucky Coffee trees for use as shell beans.  I'd also add understory fruit trees that can handle partial shade, like Goumi, Pawpaw and Cornelian Cherry.
 
James Landreth
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Jay Angler wrote:

James Landreth wrote: I’m involved with designing food forests for community security. I’m hoping to expand this to try to cover everyone in my area at some point, and I’m involved with advising other areas as well.

"Community Security" can include many different things. Is your focus primarily food? You did mention firewood, but are you considering things like building material, oilseed crops for needs such as soap, candles or lantern oil, or tree fodder for animals such as sheep for clothing/bedding?

How much land might it take to grow a truly supporting ecosystem for 10 people in your ecosystem? Would that include long term being able to produce a salable product to sell or trade for things not available in your location?

I would consider an area of land designed for coppicing, as there are a great many useful products that can be made with coppiced wood more sustainably than by cutting down a whole tree.




Food is the priority, but things like firewood, building materials, etc would also be a big plus. I doubt we'll be able to organize well enough to cover all the needs of these communities but we can try.

These plantings are mostly occurring at churches and schools right now, for context. There's a chance land will be bought and placed in a trust or somesuch to expand these efforts. I'm also starting this conversation so that others will have some idea of what to aim for. I am grateful for all food projects, but some lack in ambition in their ultimate production goals in my opinion. I've planted a lot of food forests, and all of them get stripped bare every year with how expensive food is.


As to how much it would take for ten people, I don't know, it's a good question. I used the number 100 here just as a starting place. It seems like a happy medium.
 
Cj Picker
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I like where you're going with this, but considering not all 100 people live in the church parking lot (yet), maybe focus on maximizing space for each family, like a family of 4 and get them started at home with what they like, then they have something to offer the 100 person food forest, whether it be seeds, labor, cuttings etc..  I just don't think there's a "set it and forget it" solution, especially at that scale.
 
Eric Hanson
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I thought I would chime in with a thought or two about firewood.

I have tried this thought experiment more than a few times.  One acre is a little more than 200x200 feet.  If we use 200’ x 200’ as a starting point, this acre would support 10 rows of 10 trees planted every 20 feet.  If we allow for 10 years of growth for a fast-growing tree (I am thinking about black locust but other trees could be substituted), then each year 10 trees could be harvested.  Alternately, the spacing could be increased if possible/necessary.

10 trees might or might not be enough wood for a home, but this figure can be altered.  I did a quick calculation and a tree that is 20’ tall with an average diameter of 1’ will yield up about 15 cubic feet of wood.  Paul has mentioned that he heated his home over the winter with a RMH that used a little over 1 cord of (fairy low quality) firewood.  10 trees x 15 cubic feet=150 cubic feet.  One standard cord = 128 cubic feet.  That one row might be enough to fuel one RMH for one home for one season.

If we further expand this thought experiment so that each home houses 4 people then 25 homes would house 100 people.  Using the calculations above, that one acre would need to be expanded to 25 acres for firewood purposes.

Adjust these estimates up or down as deemed necessary.  Increase the number of people per home or increase home sizes as appropriate, but I thought that I could provide a starting point for the number of trees needed firewood

Does any of this help?

Eric
 
Jay Angler
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Eric Hanson wrote: Paul has mentioned that he heated his home over the winter with a RMH that used a little over 1 cord of (fairy low quality) firewood.  10 trees x 15 cubic feet=150 cubic feet.  One standard cord = 128 cubic feet.  That one row might be enough to fuel one RMH for one home for one season.

Excellent starting point for many people!  That said, if you've got a food forest as well, there will likely be a certain amount of pruning required just to keep paths cleared or to remove storm damage. I recall reading somewhere that many of the traditional hedges in England were a big part of their firewood system.

Finding a way to stack functions is important. A book I read recently had some interesting research about how monoculture fir forests, which is often my government's and my forest managers idea of a "forest" is contributing majorly to forest fires and land degradation. I think that's why I was asking whether this was part of James Landreth's thinking.
 
James Landreth
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Cj Picker wrote:I like where you're going with this, but considering not all 100 people live in the church parking lot (yet), maybe focus on maximizing space for each family, like a family of 4 and get them started at home with what they like, then they have something to offer the 100 person food forest, whether it be seeds, labor, cuttings etc..  I just don't think there's a "set it and forget it" solution, especially at that scale.



The 100 is completely hypothetical. Also, we already have a bunch of community food forests going, they're just not to a large scale. So this is the next step, and is largely a conversation about planning and advising.

Also, a ton of people rent around here and don't have access to a private plot of land, so it's only feasible to do this on communal ground, for everyone
 
James Landreth
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Eric Hanson wrote:I thought I would chime in with a thought or two about firewood.

I have tried this thought experiment more than a few times.  One acre is a little more than 200x200 feet.  If we use 200’ x 200’ as a starting point, this acre would support 10 rows of 10 trees planted every 20 feet.  If we allow for 10 years of growth for a fast-growing tree (I am thinking about black locust but other trees could be substituted), then each year 10 trees could be harvested.  Alternately, the spacing could be increased if possible/necessary.

10 trees might or might not be enough wood for a home, but this figure can be altered.  I did a quick calculation and a tree that is 20’ tall with an average diameter of 1’ will yield up about 15 cubic feet of wood.  Paul has mentioned that he heated his home over the winter with a RMH that used a little over 1 cord of (fairy low quality) firewood.  10 trees x 15 cubic feet=150 cubic feet.  One standard cord = 128 cubic feet.  That one row might be enough to fuel one RMH for one home for one season.

If we further expand this thought experiment so that each home houses 4 people then 25 homes would house 100 people.  Using the calculations above, that one acre would need to be expanded to 25 acres for firewood purposes.

Adjust these estimates up or down as deemed necessary.  Increase the number of people per home or increase home sizes as appropriate, but I thought that I could provide a starting point for the number of trees needed firewood

Does any of this help?

Eric




I think that this is an excellent thought experiment and set of numbers to work with. I think ultimately the firewood would be integrated with the rest but these numbers still help a lot, as maybe that one acre could be integrated throughout a larger footprint, say, ten acres
 
James Landreth
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Jay Angler wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote: Paul has mentioned that he heated his home over the winter with a RMH that used a little over 1 cord of (fairy low quality) firewood.  10 trees x 15 cubic feet=150 cubic feet.  One standard cord = 128 cubic feet.  That one row might be enough to fuel one RMH for one home for one season.

Excellent starting point for many people!  That said, if you've got a food forest as well, there will likely be a certain amount of pruning required just to keep paths cleared or to remove storm damage. I recall reading somewhere that many of the traditional hedges in England were a big part of their firewood system.

Finding a way to stack functions is important. A book I read recently had some interesting research about how monoculture fir forests, which is often my government's and my forest managers idea of a "forest" is contributing majorly to forest fires and land degradation. I think that's why I was asking whether this was part of James Landreth's thinking.




Where I live (just south of you) it's the same. Vast forests of doug fir monocrop that cause all sorts of problems. It's a bit unbearable, and it promotes the image that things are healthy and this state is 'green.' Anything we can do to move away from it is great in my opinion.
 
C. Letellier
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I would add black locust for nitrogen fixing and wood to your list and american linden because nearly every part of the tree is edible at some point in the year as well as being an extremely good bee tree.

That said lets look at other goals:  Have to oversimply here.

Googling.  Mature apple trees are 700 to 1400 bushels per acre.  A bushel is supposedly good for 3 to 4 gallons of cider.  Step 2 would be to make vinegar.  Assume for canning/pickling purposes each household need 4 gallons for a family of 4.  Assume another 2 gallons for cleaning and one more gallon for cider that would mean you would need 700 gallons per year.  So basically an acre.  Allowing for multiple bad years likely 2 or more acres of apple trees for this piece.  Now lets say each family was doing a quart of applesauce a week besides as fruit.  A bushel of apples is supposed to make 14 to 19 quarts of applesauce.  At 16 quarts that would mean each bushel was good for almost 4 months for a family of 4.   x3 x 25 households would be another 75 bushels.(sounds low did I mess up the math?)  Since 1 cup is roughly a meal worth that would be 2 meals worth per week.  Still leaving 19 meals a week to find.  If we can double apple production that would take us to 17 meals per week to find.  Now since I don't see good quick numbers lets start with walnuts which mature forest is supposed to produce 6000 lbs per acre.  If half of that is edible that is 3000.  Now wheat is roughly 1 lb per day per person needed so lets assume the same thing or slightly less is needed.  So 1 acre will feed for 30 days per year.  Lets call it a bit over and acre and 36 days worth or 9 meals per week worth.  Now you have it down 8 meals a week or  to 10 days per month.  Lesser producing trees etc will need more acres.  Now if we use the nuts right we may be able to feed husks to pigs get gain there as well.  So lets say we can use various waste feeds / fallen fruit cleanup etc from the food forest to feed enough pigs/chickens etc to do 1 day of meat in there so 9 days per month needed yet.  Now I know that I can pickle 3X to 4X the volume of the vinegar doing pickled beets.  Call it 3X and that would give 12 gallons pickled beets for 1 gallon a month at just over 1 cup each for another 6 meals a month knocking 2 more days off.  Down to 7 days per month still needing to be filled.  Add some other fruits and canned fruit.  We will still need enough other garden potential, green house potential etc for 1/4 of our years food with say roughly 5 acres involved.  Now we can aim for that though and fall far short because of bad years so probably needing 10 or 15 acres total involved.  And disease etc will destroy a certain amount of productivity each year especially in a distrubuted and more poorly maintained food forest.  Lets call it taking us to needing 20 acres total and another 5 acres of garden that we can not really mix with the food forest and land for a year round green house.

Now needed firewood I think Eric is on the right track at least for the thinking so another 25 acres for firewood is probably at least on the right order of magnitude.  There again probably need to double it maybe because you don't want to come up short.  Now this one should include 2 other pieces of thinking going 2 completely different directions.  

One was an article on an RMH.  The guy was coppicing a variety of willow yearly.  This gave him RMH sized stuff with no splitting and cutting it down and in pieces with just a battery operated pruning shear.   The willow variety was supposed unappaletabable to deer and rabbits.  The other advantage here would be growing a lot of long skinny sticks to be garden trellis etc.  Guessing the 25 to 50 acres probably applies here too.

The other end of the spectrum was from a wood working magazine from about 20 years ago showing how a mature large tree produced more wood per acre than any other choice.  If you started with little trees and say 25 of them in a given foot print.  Harvest half and half again in thinning operations till it gets down to 1 tree and then grow it to maturity as the number of cubic inches of wood per year is greater per acre.  So instead of harvesting 10 1 foot diameter trees a year do 1 say 3 foot diameter tree that is 2X or 3X as tall.  Probably be a better answer if burning in any kind of normal wood stove where big firewood is the answer.
 
C. Letellier
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Reply continued.

Finally you will have a need for replacement wood be it raised beds, green houses, fence posts etc and even home repairs.  Most of those are very advantageous if the wood is extremely rot resistant.  So likely cedar, black locust are the goal here.  So how much here?  Lets take a guess and say 1 home per year worth of wood.  That is roughly 16,000 board feet.  Now lets go at this from 2 different directions.  1.  An article suggesting that normal forest trees produce 500 board feet per acre per year.  That would mean 32 acres of trees needed for replacement wood.  2nd path douglas fir in mature growth forest is abut 38,000 board feet per acre.  But if that is 200 year old wood we would need just over 83 acres to grow equivalent wood.  Now this number is going to be highly variable.  Types of wood use, wood source and others will come into play.  Most construction materials will likely come in as commercially harvested wood.  So say half or less will likely be local wood.  Is one house worth a year a good guess?  No idea.  Best guess is most of the older homes in my area are at least 50 years old that it is probably double what is needed.(but how many burned down in that time that I don't remember?(does that bring it back to 25 year average life expectancy for a home))   Lets say at least half the need will come in as commercial wood.  That would take us down to 16 acres to 40 acres roughly of needed woods this way.  Now likely the orchards, nut forests etc will play into reducing firewood need some each year and so some of those firewood trees can grow larger.  So is another 25 acres of forest a reasonable guess?  If we grow really rot resistant wood and say take replacement from every 25 years to every 100 years that cuts usage by a factor of 4.  So potentially 6 or 7 acres of black locust instead?

So lets total it all up.  25 acres of food forest/garden/green house + 25 acres to 50 acres of firewood and call it 6 to 25 acres  of replacement wood from within the system.(still buying commercial wood for construction from outside) on the top end of needs would be roughly 75 acres of stuff for 100 people.  But that is with high redundancy and excess capacity for bad years, disease outbreaks etc.)  

On the lower end with less margin and buffer in case of problems we can probably produce what is needed on 5 acres of food forest, 5 acres of true garden + long season/deep winter greenhouse + year round greenhouse.  Part of the long season can probably be accomplished thru fruit wall techniques so no plastic or glass needed and other parts can be recycled glass.  25 acres for firewood and 6 acres for replacement wood.  So 31 acres total.  Now we know we can get a bunch of synergies out of the food forest and garden so we might be able to halve that and still support the 100 people most years but it will take larger labor inputs.  Other things like solar, good insulation, good house design etc can greatly reduce firewood needs while doing those poorly can increase it.  Building for really long life wood use can radically decrease the need for replacement wood use while poor choices greatly increase it.  So we need to look long and hard at those other pieces of the puzzle as they can reduced need ground greatly.   So if your goal was to support a 100 person community those actually may matter more in your land use planning and goals than the actual food forest.

Other gains.  We know that 3 to 4 animal units worth of methane generation will provide enough cooking gas for a family of 4.  If a human is 1/4 of an animal unit we might for every 16 households to produce enough gas for one household to produce enough gas to cook with.  Say you could add in animal manure from food forest, food waste etc to double that so 8 households produced enough gas for cooking in 1 household.  That would give you 12 households that could cook with gas out of your 100.  There again reducing fuel needs.  What others can we synergistically stack?
 
Abraham Palma
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I have a much simpler way of calculating this.
In the decades before the industrial agriculture, my country featured 3 ha of cultivated land per person. Those were needed for all purposes: food & drinks, textiles, medicines, tools, furniture, heating, flowers, mobility (horses). That was when the fertility of the land depended only on the farm animals, sunlight and available water. Sheep were a major economic source, for the Merino wool and the Manchego cheese.
There are countries with higher fertility (France, UK) which can do with less land, but here in Spain we needed that much. On the other side, we do not need that much fuel in winter.

It is usually forgotten that without the old forests, these cultivated lands would lose their fertility fast, as it happened. Here most forests were destroyed for the wood, and now we are very dependent on irrigation. I would think that we need to keep at least 2 ha of wild forest per person. So for a population of 100 people in my area, I'd have 500 ha (1200 acres), 200 for wild forest, 300 for cultivation, including grazing. This is for a thriving community that can trade and keep an army and a state. Although most of the families would work in the primary sector, crafters and other services (education, health care, protection, traders, etc.) are needed.
As I understand it, a food forest does not qualify as wild forest for systemic services.
 
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100 people require c. 250,000 calories per day.
Mature avocado tree produces 1.5 avos per day = 375 calories.

250,000/375 = ~667 trees

Man cannot live on avocado alone but it gives you a ball park for calorie provision from trees.

So plant a variety of 1000 trees that give edible produce and 1000 more support trees eg N fixers, shade, habitat etc then with the non tree crops you can interplant you should be doing great in a 2000 tree food forest.
 
Eric Hanson
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Jay, James, everyone,

Yes, by all means, integrate those trees/that acre with as many other functions stacked on top as possible.  I went with a 20x20 spacing as that would leave room both for growth and for access to trees once mature.  But in the meantime, maybe some additional trees of various types could be grown in between the Black Locust before growing to maximum height and shading out the secondary growth.  Further, I am certain that with a whole food-forest that all of those prunings could be put to good use, possibly as firewood, but also maybe as wood chips.  In my mind I imagined filling out the excess of the 200 x 200 foot plot (200x200=40,000 sq. ft.  1 acre = 43560 sq. ft) with a dense hedgerow that would wrap around the firewood plot on 3 sides (600 feet).  I would think about putting Osage Orange, maybe Autumn Olive, Blackberries/raspberries in that hedgerow.  This would give lots of shelter for wildlife, cane fruit for people and the Osage Orange would yield up some additional excellent firewood.  But as always, this can be adjusted to whatever one needs.  Another excellent use for a hedgerow would be to plant a huge row of blueberries.  600' of blueberries would probably yield up a whole year's worth of the fruit for a family.  Alternatively, maybe the better idea would be to mix blueberries with raspberries and blackberries.  There could be numerous permutations of this hedgerow, so by all means, run crazy with it.

Personally, I could almost imagine myself planting another plot of densely planted poplar trees as they would quickly make a great source of wood chips, something that I use quite frequently.  Maybe I would not need an entire acre, but some poplars for chips and mulch could be handy (though not necessary).  Further, maybe it would be better to incorporate rows of Black Locust with an orchard as the Black Locust, being a nitrogen fixer, would help provide N to the fruit trees.

I have not included wood for lumber in these thoughts, but again, Black Locust might be the perfect tree.  I am not certain how to calculate the lumber needs for a family of 4, but at the very least, we can use the basic calculations for the firewood lot as a starting point.

The last point I thought I would touch on is that when I do these thoughts in my head, I always want to leave some acreage left over as a basically undisturbed woods.  I might harvest some fallen wood, and I probably would get a whole lot of fallen leaves, but I would let the woods basically stay as a woods for wildlife and aesthetic purposes.  Maybe 10 acres?  As with all of these thoughts, that 10 acres could be adjusted as appropriate.  

Anyhow, these are just a few of my ongoing thoughts I have with this thought experiment.  I realize that I am thinking more in terms of land area rather than a specific number of trees, but I think the two are closely related.

Eric

 
Jay Angler
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People are contributing tons of good thoughts here. Thank you Abraham for the historical info from your ecosystem. That's a good reminder of how different the solutions will be almost everywhere - even within ones own region or acreage.

Returning many things to "local production" can help maintain soil health. My neighbor has a small mill that can produce much of the dimensional lumber for building - 2x4 sort of stuff. He can't make plywood, and there are places where plywood makes a house safer to live in, but it has some big downsides as well. However, much of the animal bedding I need for my chickens, ducks and geese, come from me clearing off the sawdust/shavings from his mill. My animal bedding eventually, gets dug out and dumped in compost bins in layers with green waste like onion peels and tomato vines. Later yet, the compost bin material gets dug out to refresh raised beds or build new ones (or when I get busy, I plant straight in the bin - parsley, green onion and kale are in one right now.)

However, the bark and any parts of the tree that didn't end up in a 2x4, go into my neighbor's wood furnace to heat his house. An RMH would be more efficient, but that's the future.

So as Eric pointed out, when people "manage" the forest, but with the health of the forest as the prime concern, both humans and the forest are in a win-win situation. I read a book recently which spoke *very* highly of the importance of natural/native mature forests. There are things involved there that no "food forest", "coppiced forest", or "mono-culture forest" could ever replace. However, there's good evidence that much of North America was being managed to some degree or another, and certainly impacted by, Homo sapiens. Removing those forest management approaches has been detrimental to my region.

So how do we get back there while still providing essential human needs? There are plenty of historical examples and I'm sure just as many where analysis based on modern knowledge would provide genuine improvements. (For example, the improvement of efficiency by using rocket stoves/RMH in place of open fires which tend to cause many health problems.)

I'm just *really* pleased that permies *are* thinking about this, and James has already started building small versions of the food forest part. I'm planting fruit trees as guilds, although I'm still struggling in my efforts to plant effective ones (bad drought this year and the deer decided comfrey tastes just fine... sigh...). However, even with my not-quite-right attempts, I'm seeing benefits over and above just the fruit that makes it into my belly. There will never be one right answer, but I'm so very glad that people are thinking about what this might look like and how it could improve our neighborhoods.

@James: if you had 2 empty city lot equivalents to build a food forest on, what would be your current tree/shrub choices?
 
Eric Hanson
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I like Steve's avocado example.  So according to him, we would need 667 avocado trees.  If we spaced them on the 20x20 centers I mentioned earlier then we could get 100 trees/acre, requiring about 7 acres for all the trees plus a little extra.  As usual, this may need some adjusting as I just don't know the spacing for avocado.  Also Steve already mentioned that using avocados alone would not be a good strategy for food, so of course we would substitute some of those avocados for other tree fruit.  Avocado is an excellent tree fruit but it won't grow everywhere, therefore our ultimate mixture will depend largely on our climate zone, but we still have an idea of how many trees we would need and how much land would be used.

Personally I LOVE bush fruit--blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.  I would want to have a substantial bush/bramble patch.  If we had another acre where bush fruit was planted densely in rows that were 10 feet apart, the 200'x200' patch would give us 20 rows of bush fruit that are 200' long apiece!  That's 4000' of bush fruit!  Even for 100 people, this should be enough to heavily complement whatever we get from the actual free fruit.

I think that between our tree-fruit needs and the bush/bramble fruit, 100 people should be able to get by on less than 10 acres for food production.

Eric
 
Jay Angler
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Eric Hanson wrote:Personally I LOVE bush fruit--blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

I'll do a plug for adding some strawberries to that list, and goji berries sort of fit. The nifty thing is that by doing that, again depending on ones ecosystem, you can spread out the harvest. North Americans have been spoiled by being able to buy strawberries all year round, but if we're trying to localize food production, we need to pay close attention to what foods are available when.

I have 3 older apple trees. One comes late July, one comes mid to the end of August, and one comes in late Sept. The first two aren't keepers, but they come during our drought, so wind-falls go to the ducks and geese as a chunk of their diet. I've recently planted two more trees which are supposed to produce later in the fall and are good cooking apples. Those trees were badly abused before I rescued them (some people rescue animals, I rescue plants...). I'm hoping they will put down roots and eventually fend for themselves, but in the short term, they're getting a little support and I'm simply accepting that "not dead" is the current best outcome.

However, apples have a high glycemic index. They *can't* make up a large part of my diet on their own. I'm really thinking of trying to grow some avocado in some sheltered spot, as some of the Mexican ones can theoretically grow here. Avocado have a fairly healthy fat in them. I wouldn't want to subsist on them either, but to me the whole point of a "food forest" is to plant many species and varieties so we end up with a healthy, complex diet.
 
Eric Hanson
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Absolutely Jay, I love strawberries as well!   I didn't know if strawberries counted as bush/tree fruit so I did not count it, but absolutely I would want my homestead to include strawberries.

If I could, I would also grow black currents, Aronias and Lingonberries.  I might be able to get by with black currents, but the Lingonberries are a high northern fruit, common in Sweden and Norway--a far cry from my climate zone!

Eric
 
James Landreth
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Eric Hanson wrote:Absolutely Jay, I love strawberries as well!   I didn't know if strawberries counted as bush/tree fruit so I did not count it, but absolutely I would want my homestead to include strawberries.

If I could, I would also grow black currents, Aronias and Lingonberries.  I might be able to get by with black currents, but the Lingonberries are a high northern fruit, common in Sweden and Norway--a far cry from my climate zone!

Eric



Eric, what zone are you in? I know people here in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia grow lingonberries (I myself have) in zones 7-9
 
Kevin Goheen
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While firewood is important for those who only have that option, I wouldn't recommend growing for a staple of firewood as people cut trees down readily all the time, and you can find free wood all the time on Facebook. As for food, I would recommend heavy bearing low maintenance fruits like pears, Asian pears, autumn olives, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and etc. These cannot make up the whole diet, and inevitably everyone has to eat vegetables. So, I would recommend dedicating area for animal husbandry and perennial vegetables for your zone.

Chickens, turkeys, and sheep make excellent livestock and can be high density, and there are many many many perennial vegetables to choose from. I have actually been working on a book about temperate perennial palatable vegetables in Zone 7b and I have 96 so far. There are also a number of self-seeding annual vegetables that are excellent like lamb's quarters. For general function and food, I think an excellent plant to have if you can control it is bamboo. It's good for structures and tastes great. Yellow groove bamboo does not need to be boiled.
 
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