Also called forest garden or edible forest, and vegetable garden, the food forest is a multi-purpose forest, suitable for growing wood trees, fruit plants, medicinal herbs and much more, all of this in harmony with nature and imitating natural process with little or no modifications.
A bit of history
Robert A. de J. Hart is the pioneer of the forest garden; he began his work in the 1960s and, until his death in 2000, he continued to cultivate his 500 m2 food forest in England, creating the opportunity for many to learn about this methodology and spread it to others.
Hart’s studies and experiments on tropical food forests influenced an environmentally sensitive public and many permaculturists, and about 35 years after its publication, experiences have multiplied and so the knowledge.
The 7 levels:
Hart outlined the food forest in 7 levels, after studying the forest ecosystems in tropical countries. In essence, he proposed to copy nature and work in layers, proposing a model that can also be used in temperate climates:
tall trees (primary foliage)
medium height trees (secondary canopy)
The minimum number of layers required is three, including at least one type of tree. The minimum space required is ideally that of the size of the tree’s crown with complete growth and no pruning.
Why transform your garden into a food-forest
The food forest, with its many benefits, offers us the possibility of converting a vegetable garden (annual, intensive and high maintenance) into something perennial, stable, self-fertile, where we can grow traditional fruit trees but also experiment with a series of combinations with unusual plants (Asimina, Goji).
It is a valid alternative to the family orchard, as it optimizes a series of resources, such as organic material, water, minerals, and offers a variety of plants and crops throughout the year from June to November.