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Permaculture Orchard v Food Forest

 
Cj Sloane
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What are the differences between a Food Forest and a Permaculture Orchard?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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Size. Easily debatable and I'm not one for debates. I consider more than 150' of row (about 20 trees in my orchard) to be more than you will need for your own use. So beyond 20 trees you no longer have a food forest but a Permaculture Orchard. There comes a point where the size and scale goes beyond a garden size. Permaculture Orchard is usually sized for some sort of commercial harvest.
 
Richard Hauser
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Location: NJ
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Diversity. The Permaculture Orchard has a rather limited number of species and diversified cultivars. A Food Forest has many more species.
 
R Scott
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Intent/purpose. A food forest is primarily a food production system for your family, an orchard means to provide money to a farm or farmer and feeding the family is secondary.

 
Paul Ewing
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I agree the intent and size are what determines it. I see an orchard being more commercially focused and this will mean that it will need to be designed with commercial profitability in mind. This means easy and efficient harvest is a very major goal. It is one thing to wander about your back yard grabbing a bit of this and a bit of that for dinner like I see Lawton doing in some of the videos. This just doesn't scale when talking about producing enough to be profitable as a business. I guess if you have a large family or slave (intern/volunteer) labor to do the harvesting and sorting it might be doable, but those of us that would have to hire people at $10/hr to $15/hr to do that can't afford to have people wandering around 5 to 20 acres looking for what is ripe in a random wilderness. I don't see an orchard as having to have limited species either. In my plantings I have rows of peach, plum, pear, apple, persimmon, pecan, mulberry, plus flowering dogwoods and other pollinator attractants. I need to plant more nitrogen fixing (maybe) trees, but right now I am using clovers and other annual legumes for nitrogen fixing.
 
Jen Shrock
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It has been interesting reading the different perspectives on what is considered an orchard and what is considered a food forest. By my own narrow definition, I have called what I have started to plant in my back yard both (a diverse mixture of fruit and nuts). Intense diversity is a very large focus in my plantings. While, for many of my fruit trees, I have tried to find self pollinating varieties (with the exception of the apples), I purchased and planted the self pollinating varieties with the thought of converting them to multi-graft trees down the road.

Stefan - what are your thoughts on multigraft trees in an orchard, in the sense of your definition or in a small backyard personal orchard system?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Jen Shrock wrote:It has been interesting reading the different perspectives on what is considered an orchard and what is considered a food forest. By my own narrow definition, I have called what I have started to plant in my back yard both (a diverse mixture of fruit and nuts). Intense diversity is a very large focus in my plantings. While, for many of my fruit trees, I have tried to find self pollinating varieties (with the exception of the apples), I purchased and planted the self pollinating varieties with the thought of converting them to multi-graft trees down the road.

Stefan - what are your thoughts on multigraft trees in an orchard, in the sense of your definition or in a small backyard personal orchard system?

Multigraft is great. Use it, especially if you are space limited. It will aid in pollination most of all.
If you find a more diverse orchard than ours in Eastern North America please let me know. Not just for a collection of cultivars but for trees, shrubs, perennials ground covers and vines. We are always adding more as we find them. First to try and if they fit well to use more of them. Start with as much diversity as you can get your hands on whether you have a food forest or a permaculture orchard. Let the site decide what will do best.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Richard Hauser wrote:Diversity. The Permaculture Orchard has a rather limited number of species and diversified cultivars. A Food Forest has many more species.

Richard I followed Mollison's advice in 'Phases of Abundance'. And although it is certainly at a scale of an orchard if you find a more diverse orchard than ours in Eastern North America please let me know. Not just for a collection of cultivars but for trees, shrubs, perennials ground covers and vines. We are always adding more as we find them. First to try and if they fit well to use more of them. Start with as much diversity as you can get your hands on whether you have a food forest or a permaculture orchard. Let the site decide what will do best.
 
Jen Shrock
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Thanks Stefan! I am in the plant collecting stage right now and I am wondering if my collecting is becoming hoarding! I am packing as much diversity (both kinds and different cultivars) as I can in my space. Your comments help to reconfirm in my mind that I am on the right path and not crazy as many of my neighbors might have me believe!

I sort of take Mark Shepards approach to things...STUN (sheer total utter neglect). While not completely neglecting, most things are on their own to survive and I want to let the site and natural forces to do the selection of what should stay. I tend to observe things quite a bit and delay my decision making on what to do with things. So far it has paid off on a couple of things (critters at off a couple of Pecan seedlings and they finally have popped out a bud - the butternut with some disease on it's leaves last year seems to have corrected itself this year so it won't get chopped) and not on others (critters, namely rabbits, have decimated quite a bit - seeded clover and alfalfa to try to distract this year so we will see).
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Jen Shrock wrote:Thanks Stefan! I am in the plant collecting stage right now and I am wondering if my collecting is becoming hoarding! I am packing as much diversity (both kinds and different cultivars) as I can in my space. Your comments help to reconfirm in my mind that I am on the right path and not crazy as many of my neighbors might have me believe!

I sort of take Mark Shepards approach to things...STUN (sheer total utter neglect). While not completely neglecting, most things are on their own to survive and I want to let the site and natural forces to do the selection of what should stay. I tend to observe things quite a bit and delay my decision making on what to do with things. So far it has paid off on a couple of things (critters at off a couple of Pecan seedlings and they finally have popped out a bud - the butternut with some disease on it's leaves last year seems to have corrected itself this year so it won't get chopped) and not on others (critters, namely rabbits, have decimated quite a bit - seeded clover and alfalfa to try to distract this year so we will see).

Jen if you read Mark's book carefully he describes his STUN. Give the tree 4-5 years or 3-4 years of care to get it off to a good start then STUN. I made the mistake in one block of trying it from planting year and now have STUNted trees.
You are on the right path, keep going. Soon the neighbours will be quietly copying some things you are doing, never all.
 
Richard Hauser
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Location: NJ
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Stefan, I loved the movie, but if you don't mind me asking,
1. Why did you choose Honey Locust over black locust?
2. If you had started from scratch instead of converting an existing orchard, would you have included a nut crop such as hazelnut?
3. Doesn't all the plastic sheeting interrupt rainwater from getting in the ground?
4. What percentage of water are you getting from rain vs. the drip lines?
 
Cj Sloane
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Richard Hauser wrote:Stefan, I loved the movie, but if you don't mind me asking,
1. Why did you choose Honey Locust over Black Locust?


I was wondering about other n-fixing shrubs so you could have one on each side of every tree. Shrubs like seaberry or gumi, or autumn olive.
 
Zach Muller
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Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:Give the tree 4-5 years or 3-4 years of care to get it off to a good start then STUN. I made the mistake in one block of trying it from planting year and now have STUNted trees.


Hey Stefan, thanks for all your contributions and insights on the forum thus far, so awesome of you. I would love to hear more details on your experience with timing the STUN. I have been thinking a lot about how much to water for proper establishment of my trees. Also in my forest garden there are always tree seeds germinating, so I have to decide what to weed out and what to allow. Some thing will germinate uncontrollably like mulberry, hackberry etc. so utter neglect means these natural growers will take hold. You mention letting the tree go at planting year, and 3-5 years, did you have any species that made it after being let go after 2 seasons of care?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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Zach Muller wrote:

Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:Give the tree 4-5 years or 3-4 years of care to get it off to a good start then STUN. I made the mistake in one block of trying it from planting year and now have STUNted trees.


Hey Stefan, thanks for all your contributions and insights on the forum thus far, so awesome of you. I would love to hear more details on your experience with timing the STUN. I have been thinking a lot about how much to water for proper establishment of my trees. Also in my forest garden there are always tree seeds germinating, so I have to decide what to weed out and what to allow. Some thing will germinate uncontrollably like mulberry, hackberry etc. so utter neglect means these natural growers will take hold. You mention letting the tree go at planting year, and 3-5 years, did you have any species that made it after being let go after 2 seasons of care?

Zach the only one that made it with minimal care is honey locust. Fruit trees that are STUN in our poor sandy soil give STUNted results. Not recommended. You mention mulberry comes up easily then get some scions of the best cultivars and graft them onto seedling mulberries. You will have seedling vigour, uninterrupted roots and desirable fruit qualities. Just consider working with your site.
If you want to grow good fruit give them good care since if you loose early years of good growth they will never catch up once they start to bear. Good care means NO GRASS competition and sufficient water.
 
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