Imagine, walking out into your own private backyard food forest. You're surrounded by a huge variety of productive trees. Their branches swelling with fruit of all kinds. Juicy red apples, figs, apricots and many others. Looking closer under the canopy you see shrubs covered in blueberries and blackcurrant. Tasting them, they're sweet and warm from the sun. The ground under your feet is a glossy green carpet of herbs with a patchwork of flowers. Reds, pinks and purples, bees buzzing in and around. Following a tidy little path into the forest, you pass fragrance of sweet lavender, spicy basil and tangy lemon balm. A butterfly lands on a passionfruit vine that's winding its way up a tree like a worm. A feeling of connection to nature sweeps over you.
I have just described a ‘food forest’ or ‘edible forest garden’. Which is a Permaculture term for a productive garden that is modelled on the principals of nature. Gardening nature’s way has its benefits:
Soil building (no fertiliser required)
- Pest free (a diversity of beneficial insects controls the baddies for you)
- Diverse yield (this is no mono crop! A wide variety of edible and medicinal plants all in one place)
- No waste (dying plants support new life)
- Less maintenance (keep the mower in the shed)
- Water wise (shading and mulching halts evaporation, allowing water to be stored in the ground)
- Fun (de-stress in nature)
- Comfortable (cooler in summer and warmer in winter)
Food forests can be planted on many acres or in a suburban backyard. Most of the work is in the design and establishment stages. With less work and more harvesting as the system matures. You don’t have to do it all at once, start small and build out.
Have I have roused your interest and you want to know more? Here’s a great article that goes into more detail. Canberra has it’s own developing community food forest called Lyneham Commons. Anyone can get involved and it’s a great place to meet like minded people. You can talk to us at Thriving Foodscapes about your own private food forest.