Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Sustainable Food Forest is a Great Option for Everyone

Have you heard of the sustainable food forest? This is a concept that everyone should at least be aware of, if not actively participating in. The practice of transforming backyards, side lots and open fields into areas filled with trees for fruits and nuts as well strawberries, raspberries and several other smaller fruit plants  is known as the sustainable food forest.

While often times vegetable gardens are labor intensive and according to gardening magazines require artificial fertilizers and watering on a regular basis the sustainable food forest is generally much less involved and really cares for itself. 

In our vegetable gardens, we add compost to the soil improving it’s structure, we then turn over our plot aerating and loosening compacted soil before introducing rotating crops in sectioned gorgeous rows. While there is nothing wrong with this practice, and some people actually take solitude in the work they do tending their vegetables, this is still a time consuming task that turn many away that would like to take a whirl at the usual summer-time veggie garden. These gardens also generally return good yields and there is a level of satisfaction by the gardener from growing food in this manner.

A food forest, however, is completely different. A forest of food operates similar to a natural forest, it has its own eco-system which given time provides for itself and reduces the labor involved in growing food to minimal effort on our behalf. When we look at a natural forest nobody is tending to it’s needs and it has reached a balance which is sustainable for long periods of time all on its own.

The same thing happens with sustainable food forests. Food forests reach a balance over time. All the hard work, time, and attention that we once gave to our little vegetable garden is not required here. We no longer have to 'work' to grow food which becomes very beneficial to the living standards of today.

Food forests are a grouping of plants which harmonize together as a forest. As a result there is no need to dig soil, nor add fertilizers. And yes, these forests can incorporate animals. In the sustainable food forest there are fruiting trees, edible bushes and ground covers all working together to maintain an ecology coherent to growth and good healthy food.

Food forests are perfect for our modern urban lifestyles. Many of us have minimal space to grow food. A forest of food can be grown in a small space using dwarf stock fruit trees and growing plants vertically. Keep in mind that it is more about the plants working together to improve the soil and planting the correct species for an environment to form than space. If you need assistance in getting a food forest going, talk to your local Arborist. He/she will be able to assess your space and suggest good combinations of trees and plants to get you started.

It is a great thing when you can reach down and pick fruit or berries,or snip herbs for your evening meal that you are cooking. Even use the food forest to teach your children about nature, planting, and nutrition.  Your children will adore hanging in the garden and can enjoy planting and watching their own plants before picking and eating. What better way is there for them to learn about vegetables and the benefits which come from them.

Try out a food forest in your yard.  Whether your have 1/4 acre or 4 acres a food forest is a better alternative to the traditional vegetable garden.

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