What is a food forest?

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Sun shining through a Forest Garden

The concept of growing a food forest is relatively new.

Robert Hart pioneered forest gardening in temperate climates as a way to create a natural ecosystem that thrives without chemicals and fossil fuels.

Basically, it involves layering your trees, shrubs and ground covering plants so that they form a forest-like canopy.

So, you would have your fruit and nut trees — including pears, cherries, apples, peaches, plums, walnuts, chesnuts and almonds — growing as the top layer in the garden.

Underneath the trees would be edible shrubs or soft fruits like currants and gooseberries and cane fruits such as raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries.

Finally, the last layer is for perennial and annual vegetables.

The idea behind a food forest is that if we don’t tamper too much with nature we will be rewarded with a perfectly edible food bonanza without having to prune, dig or weed constantly.

Industrial farming is no longer a smart or sustainable way to feed large urban populations. It relies heavily on fossil fuels to get its produce to supermarkets and with oil and electricity costs soaring, shipping food long distances is an expensive and unnecessary waste of resources.

For this reason, the local government in Seattle has set aside a community park in order to grow a food forest.

If you wish to learn more about creating a food forest I recommend How to make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield.

Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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