To further that, I would add an example of say a food forest that had a couple of chestnuts as it's overstory. These trees, because of their large size and spreading crowns at maturity would need more space than say a food forest that had as it's canopy a cherry and apple and a pear. These just mentioned fruit trees could be part of an supplementary canopy under or around the edges of the aforementioned chestnuts, thus increasing the levels and diversity, or they could be seen as completely separate types of systems that could both be described as food forests. With the chestnuts, you might need to plant them far enough apart so that there is adequate light underneath them to support other species. The size of the forest would also depend on how much space you wanted in between the tree's crowns (do you want them to touch, or to intertwine, or do you want the just mentioned light) and / or how many species and of what size you want in between. I would say that a forest that only has a few trees might still be considered a forest if it also contained many shrubs as well as at least a few ground cover species, root type crops, and herbaceous plants; such that it is a layered and diverse system. In my region vines are rare, so I omitted this layer in this description, but they should be included if you can, or are so inclined.
The size that it would take to make this a forest would depend on the types of trees that you have in the first place.
Roberto pokachinni wrote:While I could conceive of a forest with a single tree (and that tree could be a dwarf graft), it would have to contain an extremely rich diversity in layers of interactive species both surrounding it and beneath it. Though if this was my project, I would most likely not call it a forest, but a guild grove, but that is just me. For the most part, I would say that a forest would have more than one tree, and probably more that a few.
r ranson wrote:What books do you recommend on the topic? I'm looking for something I can get from the library and leave scattered around the house to entice the others into imagining it was their idea in the first place.
I personally do not think that there needs to be a difference between them, at this time. I'm sure that a person who is creating a food forest, and he is writing a thread about it, will be going into enough detail that the reader can draw her own conclusions.
Personally, I don't believe there is a difference, and the two terms can be used interchangeably.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Great point Roberto, most of the people I know that have built these call their projects one or the other but when you go walk through with them, they all seem very similar.
While this makes sense, and I can agree with it for the most part (in part this is what my original post in this thread stated), I would add that, while orchards do not typically create forests in the conventional world, the goal of permaculturalists might be to create forests through enhanced ecological orchard techniques (improving both the landscape and the biomass water storage potential, layering plants three dimensionally, building guilds, stacking functions when choosing plants, etc), and that this is what a food forest is, or what a forest garden might be in some people's terminology. The goal in this regard is not to create a 'natural' forest, but to create a forest that Acts Naturally, in that it is self enhancing, has little to no maintenance in order to function efficiently, and is potentially also self regenerating in time(as it continues to build and grow).
Food forests can be created outside of a forest, while a forest garden is created inside an existing forest. Food forest is more artificial, like calling an orchard a forest. You can surely plant an orchard on a forest, but orchards don't typically create forests
Redhawk, if this chap is near to you, would it be possible perhaps for you to do a video of his project (anonymously to protect his survivalist self), and post it here. It sounds fascinating, and might be great to further share a project that is 20 years in the building. Just a thought.
I know one fellow that has 25 acres of forest on his land, he has been making additions to this plot for the last 20 years. And it is very nice now.
His "food forest" starts in the transition space with vegetables intermixed with berry bushes and cane fruits.
As you walk further towards the woods the plants are intermingled with low trees and shrubs that turn into taller trees (fruits and nut trees) and the area that mixes with the oaks and hickory trees is where you run into his pecan trees.
Since he is a survivalist type, about the only way to know what your walking into is the more garden like space that is three sisters type plantings.
You will see the odd hickory at the edge with grape and muskadine vines running up to the sunlight, at the base area you will find blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries are deeper into the dappled shade spaces.
Once you are near the canopy of the forest you start to notice the trees there are mostly fruit bearing trees and nut trees living together.
If you go deeper you find a permanent stream with mulberry and paw paw trees along the banks and back towards the canopy area.
I tend to think of the whole of his land not individual spaces, and I would call it a food garden or forest garden, it is a whole system that provides wood for fuel and building needs and then food and wood for spectacular flutes.
I can definitely agree with the need for good communication.
However the more concise our terminology can be, the more effective communication we can have as a community.
So if I grew some potatoes in my forest on my property then I would have a forest garden? Does it matter what I grow in a forest garden? Or does it matter how I grow it? Can I till in a forest garden? Can I put boxes in the trees? Can I irrigate? How much can I manipulate the forest in order to create my garden? Or is a forest garden simply a food forest that is created in an existing forest? It seems like there is potentially some gray area in your definition, or is it just how I am reading it? I'm certainly not beyond thinking the latter is true, but at this point your definition is not clear to me.
Food forests can be created outside of a forest, while a forest garden is created inside an existing forest.
It would be a big deal if we are to be adamant about creating concise terminology, would it not? How can we effectively communicate if we disagree on the terms? I don't mean to be obtuse, but I'm trying to make what I think is a pretty valid point: I think that we would have to agree if we are going to be concise with our terminology. It seems clear by what has emerged in this thread so far that a consensus has not been reached thus far, and may in fact be difficult to achieve. I could be very wrong, but I'm not sure that any serious harm has come from people using these two terms somewhat interchangeably to date.
If you disagree with this, it's not a big deal and is just varying opinions.
William Wallace wrote:Saying that we have to be concise isn't the point in my opinion, because the world will always use the terms interchangeably, even is we agree that they each mean a specific thing.
Then I'm not sure what the last part of this discussion is about. Because it seemed that that was what you were going for: a Concise definition of the terms based on your idea of what a forest garden is or isn't. I actually like your idea of what these definitions could be, but I'm not sure there is a point if not everybody else is agreeing with it. If someone brings up that they have a forest garden and another person doesn't think that it qualifies as a forest garden, and if a person wanted to argue the point, it would mean that the need for being concise on how the terms were defined does indeed matter. I was playing devil's advocate. I personally don't see the point of the argument of what the garden is, or what it is called. If the project is being shared and the owner uses this or that term, I could care less. The fact that the project is being shared opens up real discussion based on the ideas/merits of the individual project. I didn't bring up the word concise because I wanted it to be the focus of the discussion, but because it was in the quote from you, William, in regards to how you seemed to see the need in the matter. What someone else calls their food forest garden, means little to me. It could be called a food forest or forest garden or a food forest garden, or a garden forest, for all I care, (they will all get my attention) so long as the person writing in the thread is sharing details that I might find pertinent in my own designs.
Saying that we have to be concise isn't the point in my opinion, because the world will always use the terms interchangeably, even is we agree that they each mean a specific thing.
Good points made. One could discuss the introduction of cows, or the import of decaying wood, or the manipulation of the canopy, as human involvement. While not introducing plants, you are introducing much with such management, cow manure and urine, trampling, extra biomass, light and a breeze. Management of the forest is not near total absence, in my opinion, and would likely be quite obvious to the keen observer. The ideas that I've read behind most food forests is to create a system where, in the end, very little work needs to be done one way or the other, and hopefully the forest would plant itself in some future time. I like your ideas of forest management towards food production in this example. Great images. Lucky you to have feral peaches. I can't even grow peaches in my zone without serious microclimate work.
If I manage my own woodlot by cutting down certain trees to allow the feral peaches more light and air, by grazing my cows in such a way that they keep the ground around the wild gooseberries effectively mowed, by ensuring there is ample dead and decaying wood for the proliferation of wild mushrooms, am I not managing a "food forest", despite my near-total absence? Does creation require introduction?