It’s pretty simple: “forest gardening” is the easiest, least time-consuming, most beautiful and most cost-effective way we’ve ever discovered to grow a large amount of healthy diverse fruits and vegetables at home and in our community. It’s a style of gardening that grows food on many layers, from tall fruit and nut trees down to root crops like carrots, with berry bushes, vegetables and small trees filling in the between. It’s a way of emulating nature, to get ecosystems to do the heavy lifting for us in the garden and take some work off our human shoulders. It certainly isn’t the ONLY way to garden, and it has its limitations and draw-backs, but food forests provide so much value for so little time, money and energy, that almost any landscape could benefit from some kind of “Agriforest” system.
And every family could benefit, as well. We see our forest garden as our own home health-food store, providing vitamin-rich, naturally-grown foods every day of the growing season, and really – almost every day of the year. The perennial vegetables, unlike “annuals” that have to be replanted each year, come back again and again, after their initial planting, and many of those perennial fruits and vegetables are the most expensive to buy – like blackberries, fennel bulbs and asparagus.
It provides us with potentials for income when needed, including produce sales, plant sales, seed, cut flowers, edible bouquets and potted plants, educational events, tours, and research. Not to mention opportunities for growing community, social capital and friendships.
And it gives us a beautiful place to call home. The time we spend in our forest garden is some of the best-quality interaction with nature I can imagine. Instead of fighting nature, like we used to in our conventional landscape, we now get to literally work along side nature to enhace the health of the ecosystem. There’s something about being surrounded by a three-dimensional paradise of food, that makes you feel secure, safe, and… at home – as though this was the kind of place we humans evolved to gravitate towards.
Go figure! It actually was! This kind of ecosystem was our human EEA, Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, the place we evolved to flourish. And we still have the same instincts that tell us when we’ve found such a place to thrive.
“Here you will thrive, here you are home.”