Hi everyone, great discussion.
Homegardens are typically less designed on paper than the modern cold climate food forest. I think this reflects the thousands of years of tradition. Nonetheless one sees the same issues at play - spacing, shade impacts, polycultures, diverse yields, livestock integration. They are not perfect but extremely interesting. I think we should be studying them intensively. I like describing the cold climate food forest as a temperate homegarden. It gives credit to the true developers of the notion, and points to us in cold climates as the very very new kids on the block. For terminology, I'm partial these days to calling food forests just another type of multistrata agroforestry (Chapter
, towards the more intensive small-scale end of that category.
Also interesting about the distinction between the food forest vs. productive management of wild ecosystems (covered in Chapter 9). There is no precise line between these. Books like Tending the Wild (California) and The Biggest Estate on Earth (Australia) provide a look at traditional land management, which is on a continuum with multistrata agroforestry systems like homegardens. These days I am very interested in the 1000 different points that live between "farming" and "nature" that incorporate a perennial element and some human management. My own highly planned food forest is now directing much of its own evolution, as polyculture partners find each other and fruits like persimmon, currant, grape, hazel, and pawpaw germinate spontaneously.