Compact food forest teaches local residents to plant their own edible landscape

[image credit: theresiliencyinstitute.net]

People want to build an edible landscape, but don’t know how

Many people are interested in permaculture and edible landscaping, but just don’t know where to start. While even a small corner of your yard could be converted into a low-maintenance food forest, it can be a daunting project for someone with little gardening experience to undertake.

Solution: Plant demonstration food forests at community gardens

Community gardens are an excellent center for public education. A compact food forest guild planting could be placed near the garden in an unused corner of the property, along with an illustrative plaque explaining how food forests work.

The term “food forest” can be misleading. While there are some very ambitious food forest projects out there, the home gardener can plant their own micro food forest with one or two semi-dwarf (or dwarf) fruit trees, a few berry-producing shrubs, and other plants and bulbs, all in a 10-12′ space.

Be sure to select plants that are compatible with the local growing environment, to help others avoid some of the guesswork that comes with assembling a successful plant guild.

Example food forest planting:

  1. semi-dwarf fruit tree or hazelnut
  2. berry bushes
  3. bee balm, borage – to attrack pollinators
  4. clover, comfrey – to condition soil
  5. mint, oregano, lavender – to repel pests
  6. daffodils, garlic – to inhibit grass

A local nursery may be willing to provide the demonstration plants for free, in return for the business it will generate. Just include a plant list in the explanatory information. Invite the nursery to assemble a “food forest” plant package for customers, that contains the necessary anchor tree, shrubs, plants, and bulbs.

Objective: a demonstration plant guild in each community could inspire its residents to incorporate edible landscaping into their yards, boosting the food culture of the area and producing a surplus of fresh produce to feed the local population.

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Category: Hunger

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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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