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Tomas Ramiarz - Tell us more about your book  RSS feed

 
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Hi Tomas,

Please tell us more about your book, "Forest Gardening in Practice"!

Why did you write it?
What is your favorite case study?
How many years have you been involved in forest gardening? What is your background?
Is there one thing that surprised you recently about nature or something that you learned?

Looking forward to learning more about you and about forest gardening!

Sheri
 
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Hi Sheri,

Sheri Menelli wrote:

Why did you write it?
What is your favorite case study?
How many years have you been involved in forest gardening? What is your background?
Is there one thing that surprised you recently about nature or something that you learned?


Sheri



great questions!

I basically wrote the book that I wanted to read. What I found was that there are some great books about that tell you how a forest garden is supposed to work, but they say very little about how people actually fit it into their busy lives with jobs, family, neighbours and so on. What I wanted to know was: What challenges do people face, and how did they solve those problems. So I set off to find out, first by doing a global survey of forest gardens, then by visiting as many sites as I could and talking to others via phone, skype or email.

What surprised me most about what I learned was the sheer diversity of interpretations of Robert Hart's idea. I've seen everything from a 5 suare metre bed in a back garden to a 18 acre edible woodland, and they all called trhemselves forest gardeners. There are neighbourhood gardens, commercial farms, schools, hospitals and parks out there that are staring to make use of the idea to transform landscapes, both in the city and the countryside. What I've seen really makes me believe in the transformative potential of creating spaces where we can redefine our relationship with nature.

My first exposure to forest gardens was in 1995, when I did my permaculture design course at Worcester College of Agriculture. One of our field trips was to Robert Hart's very own garden. Even if I didn't grasp all the detail at the time it struck me as a great idea to grow food in this way. The following winter I found myself helping to plant a forest garden in the Netherlands with Harald Wedig, one of Germany's permaculture pioneers. I joined him a year later for another planting and by that time was thoroughly hooked. One thing these and other outings told me was that I needed to develop my plant skills, and I joined http://www.treesponsibility.com/, a reforestation group in the Northern English uplands. I spent the next 6 years surveying and designing woodlands and orchards, organising community plantings, raising money and helping to run a tree nursery. It was the most fun you could have working with people! After that my girlfriend and I spent 6 years travelling around Britain by bike, visiting loads of permaculture projects and many forest gardens along the way. Nowadays I am lucky enough to live ona 7-acre coooperative housing site where I can try out some of the ideas I have come across. The most important thing I have learned, both here and on my travels and in my research is, that we as people are nature, and that if we act with that knowledge we can become a useful partner in the interplay of species wherever we live.

I answered the question about my favourite sites in this thread:
https://permies.com/wiki/65158/Forest-Gardening-Practice-Tomas-Remiarz#740963


 
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Tomas Remiarz wrote:how a forest garden is supposed to work, but they say very little about how people actually fit it into their busy lives with jobs, family, neighbours and so on...


What did you conclude?

And... what is different between a garden and a forest garden? After all, people also have to fit into their garden-that-is-not-a-forest!

Did you come out with a conclusion about this?
I have the idea that people who want a forest garden can be more romantic and put nature or what survives after them before feeding themselves.
Or they are fructivores?
I also think that I like forest gardens because I want animals before veggies. And a mere field is not as diverse as when it has grown-up trees.

For me also, a forest garden means I want room for animals, so I see that if I want to cultivate just for me, I will have to fight all critters who want to eat too! And if we live on veggies and good fruits, well, we actually grow the most tender stuff, and they are good for other animals... After all, have a look at a cabage after the hen has eaten it.... she leaves the tough fiber and has eaten the most tender parts!

If I grow and eat the animals, then I do not have to fight and prtect, I just eat the eaters.... just the surplus, and also I can leave more weeds and local grasses and plants. Usually they are ones that we cannot eat, and animals can.

Is it the sort of thing people have told you too?
 
Tomas Remiarz
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
What did you conclude (about how a forest garden is supposed to work)?



You’ll have to read my book for that
In short, the strategies are as diverse as the people.

what is different between a garden and a forest garden?



A forest garden is a specific type of garden. In a way I much prefer Dave Jacke’s term, “edible ecosystem”, which hints at the possibility of using other structures. But in the end the “forest” in FG is more a metaphor than an instruction – what we aim for is supposed to work like a natural ecosystem, but it doesn’t have to look like one. In that sense a forest garden is like any other permaculture garden, and combines well with many other ways of using small and medium sized spaces.


I want room for animals, so I see that if I want to cultivate just for me, I will have to fight all critters who want to eat too! And if we live on veggies and good fruits, well, we actually grow the most tender stuff, and they are good for other animals... After all, have a look at a cabage after the hen has eaten it.... she leaves the tough fiber and has eaten the most tender parts!



You can design a forage garden that priorities the animals, or a garden where you allow for both humans and other species to share the crops and ideally share some of the labour – chicken (and ducks even more so) are good for pest control and nutrient cycling. On a larger scale, there are many variants of silvopasture out there that combine trees with grazing animals and/or field crops.

If I grow and eat the animals, then I do not have to fight and prtect, I just eat the eaters.... just the surplus, and also I can leave more weeds and local grasses and plants. Usually they are ones that we cannot eat, and animals can.



That is part of the silvopasture approach, which you could also use on a smaller scale. Except that most people aren’t too keen on fresh animal manure in their domestic garden, and free range animals will poop wherever they like!

 
Xisca Nicolas
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In France they say "let's call a cat a cat"! This definition of a forest garden sounds a bit as a deception to me, and as if people are dreaming romantically, but if it helps them... For me "forest garden" has a special meaning, and has some important differences with a "garden". A forest is a place with trees that occur in a variety and concentration depending on the place. A garden is cultivated for our food.

A forest garden has for me these caracteristics:
- It hosts trees.
- Not all plants are food, we do not eliminate all that does not give us food. Or else call this orchard.
- It hosts local plants that occur, mixed with imported plants and what we grow as food or other. It can be all planted and this criteria is less a caracteristic of a forest per se.

It is a mix of a garden and a forest, or else as I said, it is a term used because it is nice, explaining all the personal definitions you got.

A garden with veggies and fruit trees in an orchard with a veggy garden! There is no shame in it, and it acknowldeges that we leave little room for the original flora. How can we call something by a name of there is no common definition to know what we are talking about?

I live in  a place where what they call spinach is not spinach, what they call neem is not neem, and the guama Ii bought does not seem the edulis type of inga! And now we also have sunken hugel, when a hugel is a mount! That's what there is and in a way funny, but it will not make it easier to communicate....
 
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