By Taylor Logsdon, CEI's Freetown Farm Manager
I am continually amazed by the complexity and beauty I see during a walk in the woods. In every available niche some plant/animal/fungus has found a place to not only grow and live, but to thrive. Nuts, berries, mushrooms and medicinal herbs all grow on their own volition, without any assistance from the human world. There is competition and, more importantly, a whole lot of cooperation between all these living parts.
In a food forest, or forest garden, we take our inspiration and design from these systems. Where in an orchard we might plant a fruit tree, in a food forest we plant a fruit tree family or guild. We work with layers and niches. Every site asks for a different design. Sun exposure, site size, water availability and flow dictate the species chosen. Nuts, fruits, berries, vines, herbs, mushrooms and perennial vegetables create a dynamic community of useful plants while reducing inputs and increasing yields. The plant niches we fill create habitat for wildlife, food for humans and a beautiful and abundant landscape for us to steward and above all enjoy.
At Freetown Farm, since the fall we have been steadily planting our forest garden with species including persimmon, pawpaw, elderberry, currants, black cherries, raspberries, blackberries, serviceberry, chokeberry, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and more. This area is adjacent to the two acres of woods we have at the back of the farm, ultimately it will extend the woods further north on the property in a delicious way. In the existing woods we are also planting more diverse, edible and/or medicinal species such as redbud, spice bush, hazelnut, sugar maple, and black walnut. It will be wonderful to watch this part of the farm grow!
We are here to help you design and install a forest garden on your property as well.
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