A food forest is an agriculture system that is based on natural principles. It consists of, at least, seven layers of perennial vegetation. Perennial plants last for several years, up to hundreds of years, just as in a natural forest. The basic seven layers of a food forest are: high canopy trees, such as nut trees; low canopy trees, such as fruit trees; large and small bushes; then the herbaceous layer composed of perennial plants which are low to the ground (herbs, vegetables, ground-covers); climbers, tubers and water plants. All of these layers can be found in natural forests, but in food forests all of them produce food from one of more of their parts (leaves, stems, shoots, flowers, fruit etc.).
Another important characteristic of food forests is that they are agricultural systems without inputs. In a food forest there is no use fertilisers, and no pest control, which is unbelieveable to many people.
How can we harvest food from an agricultural system without, as often occurs, exhausting it? How can we create successful agricultural businesses, based on food forest principles, without fighting pests? These are legitimate questions, and both knowledge and experience are needed to address them. With answers to these questions, and the accomplishment of their points, you can be rewarded with a highly productive agriculture system, that functions like a natural forest, and needs little maintenance. Thus, there is no need to fight or to fertilise a food forest, and the system produces biodiversity, has a large water and CO2-retention capacity, and is full of food for people and other animals.
The harvest measurements do not address the conventional idea of harvests in the economic-sense only. Thanks to the monitoring, you can measure your food forest’s CO2-sequestration, biodiversity level, soil quality, and its harvests in food and income. The food forest monitoring tool is free, simple, and the measurement methods are scientifically-based.
Food from the Forest’s four annual courses teaching food forestry methods, and its two important “Rural Development” projects, have created an interesting network. However, this is not nearly enough. Food forests have become very popular in the past few years, but they are not yet part of the norm nor properly integrated into the agricultural sector. We are aiming to change this, by increasing food forests’ credibility with scientifically-backed data. Through the Citizen Science approach of the food forest monitoring tools, and your measurement contributions, we can achieve this!
Join us in creating quantitative and qualitative data about food forests. You can get involved with your food forest, learn more from our courses, develop your business plan with our business case tool, and get in touch with us if you think we can participate in a fruitfull collaboration with your network or organisation.