Source: Chelsea Green
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
In this book, Steve Gabriel and Ken Mudge share the multitudes of information from their research on forest farming. They explain how to grow and harvest mushrooms, sugar, ginseng, fruit and nut trees all while forest farming in a changing climate.
Where to get it?
Chelsea Green Publishing
Podcast 012 - Helen Atthowe, Soil, Conifers, Fukuoka
Agroforestry with Steve Gabriel on Permaculture Podcast
Feeding Mushrooms Logs
Walnut and Birch Syrup
Farming the Woods Website
Corina Graves wrote:This book looks super exciting! Ive got 5 to 6 acres of my 20 commented to woodland, this looks like a great to to get some more productivity from it... as a young and not well fundded permaculturalist I and all of our farm animals would greatly appreciate book!
If you ask steve a question in the woodland forum you could maybe win a free copy!
When this book came out I was already struck by the title. We are all very familiar with forest gardening, and we think a lot of how to garden like the forest, imitating, recreating the natural succession and evolution a forest undergoes.
Well there is something more to this, what do we do with forested land that maybe on our properties and we may use only for wood fuel?
This book comes in aid, it sets a path that any person on a temeprate forest can follow. Deciding what actually suits our desires, needs and those of our comunity. Farming the woods is about seeing a woodland or a forest as an opportunity to not just fit in one or two possible yileds, like fungi, but actually get into creating a complex polysystem that ranges from fungi to plants, a lot of medicinals, and animals.
A lot of berries fruit really well in shady spots. We are used to strawberries that go in the sun but there are heirloom species that grow well in the shade create a very nice green cover and give edible leafs and fruits. It's jsut about looking at what we have around our houses in a different way, it's about changing perspective. There is so much we can learn from a forested space and this will give us a head start to dive into this new possible abundance we never thought about.
The authors speak of the importance of wood products and different uses getting out of that monothematic wood as fuel vision that I had. The end of it all is to share the opportunity that can come to those that own a forested space on their farm and don't have to see it only as useless, but can get a yield from it, and grow its diversity.
The last section is on design and it is very useful. We have seen forested land as zone 4 or 5 of our designs, well the nice thing is in the book we get a whole new vision of it all. In designing a forested space it gets its zone 0 to 4 or 5, taking the view to a level many of us had not thought about.
I think the reader that is curious will like the book because it gives a lot of information, it shares ideas, and speaks of real life. The reader that already practices agroforestry in an opened minded way will find inspiration to evolve and diversify. You may start reading the book from a section that captures your interest, but you'll end up for sure reading the book up and down more the once.
The book is very nice, and as I always stress in my reviews here on permies, they have a blog were the discussion continues, and this is always a must for me.
"The forest is a place where time slows down and surprises emerge" pure truth, so lets get into it.
9 / 10 Acorns
Farming the Woods provides a good overall introduction for those looking for creative inspiration and real world examples of how to manage and transform already wooded areas in humid-temperate climates into systems which are productive both directly and economically.
Beautifully illustrated and engaging, it is an easy read, it is far more approachable than many other (more academic oriented) texts on the subject. It is what you would expect from a Chelsea Green book.
I have had two apprentices read the book, and both of them found it very useful to get a grounding in what agroforestry is and the diverse forms it can take.
For Experienced Practitioners
7 / 10 Acorns
Farming the Woods seems geared toward practices and perspectives for moist/humid temperate deciduous forests. If you are in this kind of climate, then the book is highly relevant. I believe the case studies provide useful pictures and analysis of what others have accomplished in these conditions.
FTW also provides useful frameworks for teaching newcomers the core concepts to other people.
Despite the good case studies and useful frameworks, it is still an elementary text in many ways. Providing rough paths forward, but without a substantial analysis of the factors needed for success in any of the given types of systems it describes. Hence why it is marked low for experienced practitioners,
The book provides no examples or conversation from dry mixed deciduous/conifer forests or boreal/conifer forests of the north. In this way, it is more narrowly relevant than the title may suggest.
There is also little discussion about tree and forest establishment in marginal areas. The book appears to presume that -for it's readers- it is already easy to grow and establish trees, or that you already have productive trees/forests.
I believe more case studies on establishment would have facilitated those in marginal (but still forested) areas to get a start, or more fully utilize dryland forest ecosystems.