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Who is growing a food forest?

 
Posts: 104
Location: Zone 6 - Missouri
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I have a 20 acre place that I'm setting up with alleys of prairie separated by forest gardens planted on contour (watered by swales). At this point I have four forest strips planted out of about 15 that I expect will be there in the final run. The prairie alleys are about 100 feet wide on average and will be grazed using Allan Savory's techniques. The forest gardens are meant to feed both me and my livestock, so they have species for forage and mast as well as the usual suspects for human use. When it's established I'll have all of the layers represented, but right now it's just the trees and shrubs (and a LOT of N-fixing ground cover). I'm aiming for it to come out to about 8 acres of forest garden and 12 of prairie and ponds when it's finished.
 
Posts: 176
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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I am currently using this book to plan my forest garden. It will eventually be about two acres, but I am starting in areas of about 200 x 200'. I am keeping the existing red alders, but thinning out the other existing trees. I am currently growing many trees and shrubs in pots to put into the food forest.
 
Posts: 56
Location: SW Virginia Mountains, USA
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I'm very interested in following this thread, and seeing what others are doing, even if some are just in the early/planning stages. The ones that are "popping" fascinate me!

Although I have nothing worth showing yet, I did start planting a few fruit and nut bushes ~5 years ago; unfortunately it was long before I stumbled on the 'food forest' concept, or even knew what 'permaculture' encompassed. Most of those plantings are now too large to move so they will remain where they are, but I did manage to start one guild last year around a small apple tree. It incorporates many of the food forest concepts, and some of the berry bushes I planted earlier will end up in the understory of the apple tree as it grows. This year it is unbelievably lush, although not very large.

Just last month I had some earth moving done in prep for a much larger food forest area that previously has been "lawn"; it won't have anything much planted in it this year except maybe some deep-rooted things like daikons and blown-in dandelion seeds to help break up the soil the bulldozer compacted. So far I have hauled in and spread 12-15 cu. yards of wood chips to cover the bare compacted area about 5-6" deep, and I've only done about half so far. I'll be 72 this year, and have no help, so this old woman is progressing slowly! However, my fruit tree seedlings won't be ready to go in the ground for another year, so that works out okay. I'm propagating more insectaries in my flower beds, and working on dividing things like comfrey, french sorrel, herbs, chives, daffodils, yada, yada to have plenty of transplants when the soil is agreeable.

I built a 50' long hugel berm at the high end of the new area, and it too is a work in process. Despite upturned sod, grasses are still sprouting along it; perhaps some are from the airborne orchard grass seed I sowed over the drain field. I have a few winter squash plants now in the hugel berm, but it needs a good ground cover, even if just wood chips. My intentions are that the hugel berm will be a soaker/buffer between the rain runoff from the old barn roof above it and the slope down to the creek, with some of my future food forest located in between the two.

Awaiting the new garden prep are perhaps 3+ dozen fruiting plants which include: native elderberries I propagated, several apple grafts from a class I took in spring, haskaps, Cornelian cherries, grapes, plums... and I have a promise of mulberries and chinquapins from friends. There are more I want, along with more perennial veggies, but that;s what I have on hand. I also started a stand of Jerusalem artichokes last year and they have multiplied quite nicely. This fall they will be dug and replanted along the property fence line to act as both a slight windbreak, and a visual barrier to the neighbor.

Making the change from a flower gardener to a sorta vegetable gardener wasn't too difficult. Making the change from traditional gardening, whether flower beds or 'soldier rows' of vegetables into a food forest garden is a whole other ballgame. It promises to be an interesting journey!
 
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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My food forest is at this stage



(elaeagnus umbellata)
 
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Thanks, everyone so far for sharing. I am curious to hear from food forest gardeners if any of you are able to reduce any part of your maintenance due to your ecosystems now doing it for you.
 
gardener
Posts: 361
Location: Central New York State zone 5a
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Simply having mulch plants underneath my fruit trees has helped with maintenance significantly.
 
gardener
Posts: 903
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7B/8A
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One reason I started my food forest a few years ago is that I am a single guy, so I don't have kids or other family members I can press into service doing the old traditional style row gardening (like my dad did to me and my siblings)- I have high hopes for food foresting because it is literally my only option for growing decent amounts of food by myself without burning the candle at both ends.
I did row gardening when I first moved to my property and it was impossible to keep up with weeding, harvesting, getting rid of pests,etc.

One of my "techniques" to get things moving was to simply stop mowing. Except for trails going to various parts of the yard, I've let it basically go wild and I am getting a lot of trees coming up on their own. Nature is "planting" weeds with deep tap roots like Milkweed, mimosa trees (nitrogen fixing) and others that are helping break up my hard, dead, clay soil. Also I've encouraged clover and there are huge swaths of yard taken over by it now.


Types of trees/vines I have currently: Pomegranate, cherries, black walnut, Goji/wolfberry, quince, peaches, grapes, figs, American persimmon, mandarin oranges, citrangequat, Japanese bitter orange, Kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, banana plants.

Luckily when I moved to my property about 3 years ago, there were some persimmons, apples, grapes, blueberries, black walnut, cherries already fully mature and fruiting, but I've been steadily adding things.
 
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