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Towards a formal framework for understanding guilds and food forests

 
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Karl Treen wrote:This post represents an incredible amount of thought and consideration.  The only other place that I have found such a scientific approach is in Mollison's Permaculture, a Designer's Manual. We should all strive for such precision in our work.

To sum it up, I believe what Neil is working on is a uniform way for us to describe polycultures.  For some of us more earthy types this might seem totally OCD but, in truth, if we are going to establish Permaculture as a viable alternative to "modern agriculture" we need a system that the scientific community will take seriously.  This could very well be that system.



At first I do this precition work for my own success. The soil on my place is so terribly poor. First some fruit trees and banana were bearing fruits. few years later this stopped maybe because the nutrients from the dieyng plants were consumed by then. I started more serious experiments in permaculture a few years ago and had but little success. So I know I have to pull all stops of my grand permaculture organ to be as successfull as I want to be. I currently study the "Permaculture - a Designers' Manual" from Bill Mollison. I extract plant names along with their functions and give me tasks to acomplish. When I'm through, I will repeat and put the things from the differen chapters together which belong together to get a really holistic concept. Bill Mollison mentioned that we don't have to pull out several Elements from his Book and think we could be successfull. Instead we have to apply every aspect of his Euvre. Just think, I've spent years not planning but trying certain Elements but not thoroughly worked out. If I would have started designing my nucleis first, Those could already work for me while I establish other nucleis. That would have saved me a lot of time in the timeframe from Start to success.

Secondary I do it for those who can see what I do, to prove that a systematic planning is essential for the success one wishes to have. This can include scientists of course.

I also like Neils post. Especially the idea with establishing stands of mushrooms beneficial to my enterprise. And also his aproach with the databases. For me it would be important to include sources for the species (There might be a barter/exchange plattform which I don't know yet and/or for which I'm too naiv to use). This seems me a problem especially for less common ones. Another problem here is the shipping time: Bamboos, Bananas, Pineapples, Grapes, if I want specific varieties must be shipped as seedlings, rootlings, offshoot or cuttings also animals. They might die during the long (mostly 2 to 3 months) travel.
 
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I've been searching all over for this kind of resource as well! Closest I've find has been some Youtube creators showcasing their guilds/groupings and explaining the rationale (e.g. 1-2 free trees in the center, 1 can be shorter lived fruit, paired with longer lived nut for succession planting, shrub/cane layer to the East for winter wind and sun scald shielding, lower ground cover at the base of the shrub/cane layer, and kind of fill in the blanks (nitrogen fixers, accumulators, pollinator attractors etc) to North/South/West sides). So, I'm thinking like a graphical illustration of those examples, short description underneath of WHY it's set up that way, then user enters a USDA zone (or global equivalent? sorry, not sure what the rest of the world goes by as a rough guide to what will grow where) and it returns a suggestion list of plants of the most popular, zone-appropriate plants to fit each of those locations in the illustration, roughly ranked by popularity.
 
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The most important part of a description of plant guilds (polycultures) is the explanation why a certain plant is put in a certain spot. That is because in every climate or zone there are different species. Someone in Australia has totally different plants (including trees, shrubs and mushrooms) than someone in the USA, in Western Europe, in South-East Asia, or wherever else on planet Earth! But the functions of the plants in a polyculture are the same ...
 
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I found this post to be very interesting. I almost never think in terms of a circular/square guild. I usually think of a 100ft by 15ft row.  
And in that row, I will have a base ground cover layer that is nitrogen fixing/woodchip.
Above that I have layer of herbaceous support species like onions/comfrey/cilantro/oregano/etc.
Next I have my alternating list of fruit trees, NAPX (Nitrogen fixer, Apple sub-family, Prunus sub-family, eXotics like pawpaw, persimmon, seaberry)
for non-apple/prunus growing regions it can just be your 2 most favorite fruits and nuts.
Next I might throw in some fruiting shrubs between the NAPX fruit trees. Afterwards If something dies, I just replace it with something from a different family.
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