How to Grow a Food Forest

Eventually, she said, she hopes the fruit of the food forests can be used in the school cafeteria. In the long run, she hopes, that might convince the kids to eat a more varied, more nutritious diet.

Food Forest does not walk in the park.

They don’t need a lot of soil, but they need it for a long time, long enough for the plants to grow and mature. They also need to be weeded and mulched – a lot, especially in the beginning – and after that, the plants need to be pruned so they can be picked. They need caregivers. And managers have to figure out who will harvest, how employees, whether to be paid or not.

Nature can impose its own limits. Jose Ramirez, lives in Los Angeles artist and gardener, has dedicated her yard to growing fruit trees — mangoes, avocados, figs — with some perennials downstairs, such as nettles. But that’s Los Angeles. The earth is arid. There is not enough water to mimic a rainforest.

There are many models. by Seattle Beacon Food Forest is open for public selection. Urban food forest at Browns Mill owned and managed by the city of Atlanta. The The Philadelphia Orchard Project work with community groups to manage each orchard. (Some are designed as food forests, while others contain only fruit trees.)

They can be healthy.

Rockwell, a professor of food forest studies, says they’re particularly relevant in times of changing climates, including in Miami, where she lives, where early summer can be dry and scorching hot.

In her own yard, she has 10 edible species in a six-square-foot plot. There are taro on the ground, there are water spinach close to the ground, there are passion fruit trees, bushes of mint and chaya. She allows herself one annual crop: broccoli. Sun-filtering strawberry tree. On the edge of the yard are star fruit and dwarf mango trees. Both provide shade. Compared to a row of annuals, a food forest like hers can withstand higher temperatures and longer periods of drought. “To provide protection from heat, it really is a no-brainer,” she said.


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