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Edible Forest Gardening: Embodying wisdom, knowledge, and practice of the ‘eco’

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Presentation on theme: "Edible Forest Gardening: Embodying wisdom, knowledge, and practice of the ‘eco’"— Presentation transcript:

1 Edible Forest Gardening: Embodying wisdom, knowledge, and practice of the ‘eco’

2 What is an edible forest garden?  “An edible forest garden is a perennial polyculture of multipurpose plants” (Jacke 2005)  “Forest gardens are long-term biologically sustainable systems for growing food and other products for a household or commercially.” (Crawford 2006)

3 ‘Unlawning what we have lawned’  lawns in the US were estimated to cover 128, 000 square kilometres (about the size of England) making it the most extensive irrigated crop in the country (about three times that of corn).[1] [1]  50-70% of residential water is used to water lawns.[2] [2]  The collective maintenance budget of this ‘crop’ was in the range of 29 billion dollars in 2002, or roughly 1,200 dollars/using household. [1][1] Lindsey, Rebecca, ‘Looking for Lawns’, 8-11-05. [1] [2][2], 14-11-2006. [2]

4 Small trees & large shrubs Shrubs Climbers & vines Herbaceous perennials Ground covers & creepers Canopy trees Crawford (2006)


6 Key patterns of a forest garden:  High Diversity of perennials  Multi-layered  Nitrogen fixers  Leaf mulch  Mineral Accumulators  No Till  Ground covers  Bee plants and predatory insect attractants

7 Key qualities of a forest garden:  Self Maintaining  High yield (“Over-yielding”)

8 Figure 2-2 (Crawford, 2006)

9 In Indonesia 7% of labor inputs can account for 44% of the carbohydrate and 32% of the protein needs of the diet. In Hawaii a small home garden can provide 100% of the necessary vitamin A and C and 18% of the protein for a family of five.[1] [1] Cooper, P.J.M., Leakey, R.R.B., Rao, M.R. and Reynolds, L. 1996. ‘Agroforestry and the mitigation of land degredation in the humid and sub humid tropics of Africa.’ Experimental Agriculture 32: 235-290. [1]

10 Key qualities of a forest garden:  Self Maintaining  High yield (“Over-yielding”)  Self fertilizing  Zero external inputs necessary  Nitrogen fixers  Mineral Accumulators

11 Forest Gardening puts the emphasis on the whole as an interrelating ‘organism’ not as a collection of objects or individuals.

12 Keeping the elements present throughout the design process Air Water Fire Earth

13 Air  What are the wind patterns here?  What windbreaks already exist?  What areas are more protected?  What species make good wind breaks?

14 Wind break/ food  Medlar  Sorbus sp  Lime- Tilia sp.  Nut pine  Damson/ Bullace  Sweet Chestnut  Hawthorn

15 Wind break/ Nitrogen fixer  Alnus sp, particularly  Italian (A. cordata)  Sitka (A sinuata)  Green (A. viridis)*

16 Windbreak/ Food/ Nitrogen fixer  Sea Buckthorn*  Eleagnus spp. (E. umbellata, E. ebbingei) “All trees are multipurpose - but some are more multipurpose than others.” -George Orwell

17 Fire  South face  East face/ West face??  North face

18 Sunny position  Peach  Apricot  Pear  Fig  Almond  Butternut- J. cinerea  Heartnut- J. ailantifolia cordiformis  Walnut- J. regia

19 Light shade  Dessert apples  Plums  Quince  Chestnuts  Mulberry  Pine nuts  Hazelnuts

20 Heavier Shade  Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)  Medlar  Juneberry  Chinese Dogwood  Sour Cherry  Cooking Apples

21 Water  Flow  Ground covers

22 Earth  Soil texture  Structure  Composition  Water retention/ Drainage capacity  pH – acidification of soil is one consequence of large amounts of rain  NPK

23 ART Forest garden soil analyses Soil composition: 23% clay, 40% silt, 37% sand. 1993 2006 Organic matter level7.7%8.8% PH5.55.7 Phosphorus (mg/kg)144142 Potash (mg/kg)129127 Magnesium (mg/kg)200267 Iron (mg/kg)780613 Manganese (mg/kg)236202 Zinc (mg/kg)2516 Copper (mg/kg)98

24 Nitrogen fixation Heavy cropping fruits (chestnuts, plums, blackberries, apples, apricots, hazels, medlars, mulberries, peaches, pears), bamboos, and heavily cropped perennials will require extra nitrogen – 6- 10 g/m2 of N per year. (Crawford 2006)

25 Potassium  Most soils contain plentiful potassium, but almost all is insoluble and only made available by weathering processes.  Heavily fruiting trees and shrubs will require extra potassium in the order of 7-14 g/m2/year of K (or 8-17 g/m2/year of K2O). (Crawford, 2006)

26 Urine- Nation  One pee has about as much nitrogen in it (5.6g) as a kilo of manure, a kilo of compost, or three comfrey plants cut 4-5 times/year  One pee has 7g Potassium. More than a kilo of manure (4.2g) or a kilo of compost (6.7g)  Phosphorous- about a third as much

27 Nitrogen fixers  Alder spp  Eleagnus spp  Broom  Siberian Pea Shrub (Caragana arborescens)  Sea Buckthorn  Bush Clover (Lespedeza bicolor)  Wax Myrtles  Black Locust

28 Dynamic Accumulators  Willows  Valerian  Rhubarb  Sorrel  Blood Wort  Tansey  Salad Burnet  Wild lupine  Comfrey’s

29 Potential of the forest garden process  Grow an abundant diversity of tasty, nutritious food and other useful products  Create a stable, resilient garden ecosystem, driven by solar energy, that largely maintains and renews itself.  Protect and restore ecosystem health  Embody beauty, elegance, and spirit in the landscape  Improve economic sustainability  Cultivate a new paradigm for human participation in the ecology of cultural and natural landscapes Jacke and Toensmier 2005

30 Inference:  Forest gardening while engaging people in the growth process of their home, and providing healthy food, also can have a marked positive effect on non-human populations

31  Mineral and nitrogen accumulators  Complementary ‘bee plants’  Nectar sources  Deep and lush field layer to improve soil friability, promote fungal relationships, and provide a broad array of habitats for increased diversity. A few basic techniques

32 “Cultivate a new paradigm for human participation in the ecology of cultural and natural landscapes”  Taking this last one a bit further, I would pose that in engaging in forest gardening as an inherently participative approach to our relationships with land, food, wildlife, that we are (or we have the potential to) eliminate the need for such distinctions as ‘cultural and natural landscapes’.

33 Key qualities of a forest garden:  Self Maintaining  High yield (“Over-yielding”)  Self fertilizing  Beneficial to the other- than- human?

34 Biodiversity in forest gardening

35 Observed effects on biodiversity:  Statistically valid difference in species composition between two sites  Forest garden had higher diversity of taxa, as well as higher indexed diversity.

36 (West, 2006)


38 Forest Gardening reminds us in subtle ways that we are not separate, we can be beneficial participants in our environments.

39 “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings” Masanobu Fukuoka, The One Straw Revolution

40 High diverse yields Self maintenance/ minimum cost Directed succession Ecological health Minimal competition Minimal herbivory Sustainable water demand Existing site conditions Desired ecosystem component s Ecosystem patterning Management activities Healthy plants Overyielding polycultures Self renewing fertility Reflection/Design Action/Implementation Figure 2-3

41 Canopy density and design  Find out the size & shape of the trees you want (width x height)  Just 1-2 hours sun per day in summer can double the energy they get  Never plant canopy trees closer than their maximum potential width allows  A gap between trees (at maximum width) of ¼-½ of the tree canopy width, to give a broken canopy, will allow significant light through to lower layer  In general, put largest canopy trees at North end/side of site, smallest ones at South end/side  Incorporate any aesthetic objectives  Aim to raise canopy in time by pruning lower branches

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