What is a Food Forest?
A food forest is a constructed or modified forest ecosystem system designed to largely self sustain over time, while providing the ecosystem services of a natural woodland and providing some food or other resources for human consumption.
It is not “vegetable gardening in the shade”
Basically, a food forest is a very ancient method of agriculture. Evidence of people modifying the forests for an increase yield of edible plants can be found as much as 11,000 thousand of years ago, before traditional cereal based agriculture. It is a method of growing things that people need like fruits and vegetables, providing habitat for animals that humans might want to eat, like rabbits, chickens and goats, and other products that people want, like honey, maple syrup, herbs, nuts and wood products, but with less intensive inputs and within a more sustainable ecosystem system that supports water quality, biodiversity, air quality, soil health, and ecosystem resilience.
In modern times forest gardening is being rediscovered for the environmental benefits, but is also being tested as an economically viable alternative to modern agricultural methods.
I’ll be blogging more extensively on forest gardening as an urban and suburban agricultural system over the coming months.