Call us  505-455-0514

11a Camino Ancon, Santa Fe New Mexico 87506 (USA)

How to make a Food Forest

Let us tell you about our own food forest work! The idea of forest gardens (food forests) was first articulated by Robert A. de J. Hart in his book “Forest Gardening” and subsequently became one of the key concepts in permaculture. A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural plant/animal community that occurs in that climate. Food forests are not “natural”, but are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.

At our demonstration site, the food forests are designed to meet several goals that are universal, and that are specific to us:

  • to produce food for our co-housing community members
  • to produce forage and serve as habitat for beneficial insects, pollinators, chickens, goats and song birds
  • to create wildlife habitat
  • to provide nourishment for our bodies through herbal teas and concoctions
  • to create beauty and sense of well being
  • to create shade and increase ambient humidity in hot dry climate of New Mexico

As with our heirloom pastured poultry, focus is placed on using heritage varieties of plants whenever possible. Most of the food forest is planted with local heritage apples, pears, apricots, cherries and plums, some of which date back to the conquistadors’ times. For guild planting we maintain a small nursery garden, where plants are grown to be divided, or from which seed can be harvested. For shade and overstory trees we are using heritage varieties as well, avoiding cloned hybridized street trees type widely available in plant nurseries. Some plants we procured by digging them from old sites nearby, others were special ordered from growers who keep an eye on biodiversity.

Guild design follows permaculture approach of maximizing beneficial relationships between every element of the guild, mixed with the industrious plant propagation of things that grow in nearby gardens. These two trends define the planting scheme. New plants are destined for the nursery garden, for further propagation. Animals are included in all guild designs. In permaculture, everything gardens. Animals are consumers, and helpers with the fertilizing and maintenance. Chickens, worms, song birds, honeybees and native bees, snakes, lizards, horned owl, guineas, frogs, turkeys and goats are included in guilds.

With fruit trees we plant nitrogen-fixing ground covers and/or a “mother” plant to shade and nurture young seedlings (such as Siberian pea shrub, or False Indigo Bush). Then come the bulbs (iris, edible daylily, alliums), which absorb excess nitrogen in the springtime (when it is detrimental to fruit trees), offer bee forage and ground cover. Various sages (clary sage, culinary sage, other salvias) are there to draw pollinators and beneficial insects. Bee forage plants, like bergamot, spirea, clovers, Rocky Mountain beeplant serve a variety of pollinators. Perennial greens, such as garden sorrel and asparagus are planted where the water is sufficient to warrant their survival. Mineral-mining plants (comfrey, nettles, burdock, mullein) are combined with medicinal herbs which we use for making herbal teas and concoctions.

We maintain a three season greenhouse and a garden for annual vegetables. All our seed is open pollinated. No hybrid varieties of vegetables are used, for the same reason as we don’t use commercial breeds of poultry. Health, taste, food security and biodiversity have become priority considerations. The efforts to perennialize annuals by allowing reseeding are very successful, so that there is no need to plant a whole list of veggies each year. Top reseeders are dill, carrots, parsley, marigolds, calendulas, tomatillo, tomato, amaranth, arugula, lamb’s quarters, cilantro and mustard. Our plants are allowed to bloom, set seed and scatter it around, following their natural path. The seeds overwinter, and come out of the ground when they find conditions acceptable, making our lives easier.

Return to our demonstration site for learn more.

he idea of forest gardens (food forests) was first articulated by Robert A. de J. Hart in his book ‘Forest Gardening’ and subsequently became one of the keystone concepts in permaculture.  A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural forest. Food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.

At our farm, the food forests are designed to meet several goals:

  • to produce food
  • to produce forage for beneficial insects, pollinators, chickens and song birds
  • to create wildlife habitat
  • to nurture for our bodies through herbal teas and concoctions
  • to create beauty and sense of well being

 

As with pastured poultry, focus is on using heritage varieties of plants whenever possible. Most of the food forest is planted with local heritage apples, pears, apricots, cherries and plums, some of which date back to the conquistadores’ times. For guild planting we maintain a small nursery garden, where plants are grown to be divided, or from which seed can be harvested.

Guild design follows the classical approach of creating a maximum of beneficial relationships between every element of the guild, mixed with the industrious plant propagation of things that grow in nearby gardens. These two trends define the planting scheme. It is highly unusual for us to go shopping for plants to add to the mix – it has to be something truly unusual! Even then, the new purchase ends up in the nursery garden, for propagation. Animals are included in all guild plantings, as consumers, and help with the fertilizing and maintenance. Chickens, worms, song birds, snakes, lizards, horned owl, guineas, turkeys, goats and a cat all more or less consuem the by-products of each other, using different approaches.

With fruit trees we always plant nitrogen-fixing groundcovers and/or “mother” plant to shade and nurture young seedlings (such as Siberian peashrub, or False Indigo Bush). Then come the bulbs (iris, edible daylily, alliums), which absorb excess nitrogen in the springtime (when it is detrimental to fruit trees). Various sages (clary sage, culinary sage, salvias) are there to draw pollinators and beneficial insects. Beeforage plants, like bergamot, spirea, beeplant are there for the obvious reason. Perennial greens, such as garden sorrell and salad burnett are planted where the water is sufficient to warrant their survival. Mineral mining plants (comfrey, nettles) are combined with medicinal herbs which Arina uses for making herbal teas and concoctions.

We maintain a three season greenhouse and a garden for annual vegetables. All seed is open pollinated. No hybrid varieties of vegetables are used, for the same reason as we don’t use commercial breeds of poultry.  Health, taste, food security and biodiversity have become priority considerations. The efforts to perennialize annuals by allowing reseeding are very successful, so that there is no need to plant a whole list of veggies each year. Top reseeders are dill, carrots, parsley, marigolds, calendulas, tomatillo, tomato, amaranth, arugula, lamb’s quarters, cilantro and mustard. Our plants are allowed to bloom, set seed and scatter it around, following their natural path. The seeds overwinter, and come out of the ground when they find conditions acceptable, making our lives easier.

– See more at: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/permaculture_food_forest#sthash.06Kg1fBZ.dpufhe idea of forest gardens (food forests) was first articulated by Robert A. de J. Hart in his book ‘Forest Gardening’ and subsequently became one of the keystone concepts in permaculture. A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural forest. Food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.

 

At our farm, the food forests are designed to meet several goals:

 

to produce food

to produce forage for beneficial insects, pollinators, chickens and song birds

to create wildlife habitat

to nurture for our bodies through herbal teas and concoctions

to create beauty and sense of well being

 

As with pastured poultry, focus is on using heritage varieties of plants whenever possible. Most of the food forest is planted with local heritage apples, pears, apricots, cherries and plums, some of which date back to the conquistadores’ times. For guild planting we maintain a small nursery garden, where plants are grown to be divided, or from which seed can be harvested.

 

Guild design follows the classical approach of creating a maximum of beneficial relationships between every element of the guild, mixed with the industrious plant propagation of things that grow in nearby gardens. These two trends define the planting scheme. It is highly unusual for us to go shopping for plants to add to the mix – it has to be something truly unusual! Even then, the new purchase ends up in the nursery garden, for propagation. Animals are included in all guild plantings, as consumers, and help with the fertilizing and maintenance. Chickens, worms, song birds, snakes, lizards, horned owl, guineas, turkeys, goats and a cat all more or less consuem the by-products of each other, using different approaches.

 

With fruit trees we always plant nitrogen-fixing groundcovers and/or “mother” plant to shade and nurture young seedlings (such as Siberian peashrub, or False Indigo Bush). Then come the bulbs (iris, edible daylily, alliums), which absorb excess nitrogen in the springtime (when it is detrimental to fruit trees). Various sages (clary sage, culinary sage, salvias) are there to draw pollinators and beneficial insects. Beeforage plants, like bergamot, spirea, beeplant are there for the obvious reason. Perennial greens, such as garden sorrell and salad burnett are planted where the water is sufficient to warrant their survival. Mineral mining plants (comfrey, nettles) are combined with medicinal herbs which Arina uses for making herbal teas and concoctions.

 

We maintain a three season greenhouse and a garden for annual vegetables. All seed is open pollinated. No hybrid varieties of vegetables are used, for the same reason as we don’t use commercial breeds of poultry. Health, taste, food security and biodiversity have become priority considerations. The efforts to perennialize annuals by allowing reseeding are very successful, so that there is no need to plant a whole list of veggies each year. Top reseeders are dill, carrots, parsley, marigolds, calendulas, tomatillo, tomato, amaranth, arugula, lamb’s quarters, cilantro and mustard. Our plants are allowed to bloom, set seed and scatter it around, following their natural path. The seeds overwinter, and come out of the ground when they find conditions acceptable, making our lives easier.

– See more at: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/permaculture_food_forest#sthash.06Kg1fBZ.dpuf

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