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Food Forest no land required

 
Aaron Festa
Posts: 149
Location: Connecticut
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Hi recently watched a presentation by Toby Hemenway "How Permaculture can save the World but not Civilization" (may not be exact title). In it, he mentions that it appeared the ancient cultures of the Amazon created food forests and of course the Native Americans did the same. So I thought why can't we do the same. I know many are already doing food forests but I don't mean going out and buying a plot of land or using your own backyard. Simply use existing forest in your area. It's free. Find a wooded area within walking distance and start planting. When I drive along my wooded areas they appear already in need of rehab, trees in bad shape or fallen, overgrown thickets. And there would be no limit to what you could plant ie dwarf varieties or avoiding nut trees due to lack of space. I see a lot of interest in acquiring land to do this but to me the land is already available to us.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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It's not that easy.

Those cultures managed the forest and you probably can't do that if you don't own the land.

I own many acres of forest and it may look like there's plenty of light now, but when the leaves come out it's pretty dark. Planting trees without protecting them from animals is tough.

Might be easier to plant fruit trees in communally owned land like town square or parks.
 
Aaron Festa
Posts: 149
Location: Connecticut
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Thanks for your response CJ. I don’t think it would be easy. But given the alternative of purchasing land this could be possible. Plus I don’t think anyone would even know. Most people stay on the walking trails. It could be a secret place all your own that could be managed as if it was purchased land. Here in CT we had an early Oct snowstorm in 2012. I’m sure VT was affected as well. But this “opened” up many wooded areas since the tops of trees cracked or fell. Since we can’t use fire to manage the land this might be a good opportunity. Plus the investment is minimal compared to owning the land. Buy a couple of trees and plant. If it works fine it not fine. Just trying to think of alternatives.
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
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Location: Orgyen, zone 8
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You might try guerilla grafting in a local park instead. There is a whole movement of city dwellers who want to grow fruit but don't own land. They graft branches of edible varieties of fruit onto flowering ornamental trees in the same group. For example, grafting a Spartan apple onto a flowering crabapple. This video shows how people are doing this in San Francisco.

 
Dan Boone
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I should think that the more "management" you do, the more likely you are to attract unwelcome attention. In these times, even a mere trespassing citation can create serious difficulties for a person. But if you don't manage your plantings sufficiently, they won't thrive. It's a bit of a dilemma.

I'll tell you what strikes me as a more immediately-rewarding endeavor in the same spirit. If the forests near you harbor unloved and untended wild fruit or nut trees already, you may find that they are impossible for anyone to harvest because of undergrowth and rough terrain. They may also be unproductive due to the same undergrowth or to shading out by nearby trees. I currently have many trees on my own acreage (pecans and persimmons) in this condition.

Rather than invest all that effort and time to plant a tree that may not thrive at all, why not invest it in improving an existing tree? Much of the work is similar, but the rewards are much more immediate and the effort less likely to be wasted. You can clear out undergrowth and conceal or bury your cuttings, level the area and introduce native groundcover species that don't interfere with the tree's productivity or with harvest of its produce, plant or transplant some inconspicuous native nitrogen-fixers, very discretely reduce shading trees by judicious pruning, make useful but inconspicuous improvements to local groundwater flow, capture, and storage -- you get the idea. The nifty thing is, you can develop a food resource in just a few seasons this way. And if you "get caught", you can make yourself scarce for a couple of years, secure in the knowledge that the tree you improved is certainly still alive and likely flourishing -- whereas if you planted a sapling, you might feel pressure to return and further nurture, irrigate, et cetera.

Obviously this is not an option if the forests near you don't include any native or introduced food trees.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Many cities are one huge forest of fruit trees that people will let you harvest. I've run adds and got mote calls than I could follow up on.

Take on the gardening on a large property, charge the owner for your work and include a patch for your personal garden. Repeat with as many customers as you can handle. Save the money. Buy land.
 
Chris Badgett
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It would be cool to see more state land and large private holdings get more involved in Food Forests.

I agree that once you get the forest more managed, you're likely to attract some negative attention.

I think taking a proactive approach with state and private land tracts is a more sustainable approach.

You mentioned Toby's video about how permaculture can save the world. We also just did a video course with him on food forest design for city and suburbs: http://organiclifeguru.com/course/food-forest-design-care-for-cites-and-suburbs/

Here's some videos from the course:





 
Zach Elfers
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
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Yes, the original posters question is one that be answered with a yes, and it's practice is certainly intriguing. There are some permaculturists in Lancaster, PA who are teaching an advanced PDC on this very subject at the moment -- zone 4 permaculture. Check out a summary Ben Weiss & Wilson Alvarez's work here: http://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2013/restoring-eden/. They are working on a book. Kyle Chamberlain in Washington state is also working under a very similar permaculture model. See his blog, the Human Habitat Project: https://sites.google.com/site/humanhabitatproject/.

Other good resources on this subject would be M. Kat Anderson's great work Tending the Wild, which describes native american indigenous land management practices, which were large scale and all over, in contrast to the "garden plot." I would also recommend Samuel Thayer's works on foraging, since knowledge of foraging (as well as hunting) opens your perspective to the possibilities of wild food, and once you can reliably identify wild foods it's a much smaller leap to begin cultivation of wild spaces for the purposes of increasing the abundance of the already present wild food species.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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