A food forest is a diverse planting of edible plants that attempts to mimic the ecosystems and patterns found in nature. Food forests are three dimensional designs, with life extending in all directions – up, down, and out.
Generally, we recognize seven layers of a forest garden – the overstory, the understory, the shrub layer, the herbaceous layer, the root layer, the ground cover layer, and the vine layer. Some also like to recognize the mycelial layer, layer eight (mushrooms). Using these layers, we can fit more plants in an area without causing failure due to competition.
FOOD FOREST GARDEN DESIGNS CAN REDUCE INPUTS IN VARIOUS WAYS, INCLUDING:
placing emphasis on trees, shrubs, perennials, and self-seeding annuals,
planting thickly and using ground covers to shade soil and suppress weeds,
utilizing nitrogen-fixing and nutrient-accumulating plants, chop-and-drop techniques, and returning wastes to the land to create healthy soil rather than applying fertilizer,
planting a diverse array of plants that attract beneficial insects to pollinate the fruit crops and keep pest populations from exploding and causing damage,
utilizing several ground-shaping techniques to keep rain water on the site, and
designing for placement of plants to create micro-climates and windbreaks.
A food forest does not have to be re-planted year after year. Once it is established, it is generally very resilient.
For more information see: What is a Food Forest? – Project Food Forest