Forest-garden defined: Like the natural forest, a forest-garden is an independent community of plants or guild that is largely self-regulating, developing ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance once maintenance. A forest-garden requires thoughtful planning at its inception, and work to get it planted and well established. Yet as the garden’s trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials mature, less and less effort is needed. Forest-gardens produce food for people and their livestock while being hospitable habitat for songbirds, butterflies, beneficial insects and other wildlife. Forest gardens model natural forest ecologies taking advantage of the collective intelligence’ inherent in healthy natural systems. At Sustainable Settings we integrate forest-garden systems into many agricultural models leading to an edible landscape.
- Apple Guild – This fruit guild is situated between the north side of the greenhouse wall and the pond.
- Pear Guild – This protected guild is on the east side of the chicken coop. We have found that plants produce better crops with the protection from the western sun.
- Pear/Cherry Guild – This is the largest of the three fruit guilds placed between the east side of the pond and the road.
- Windbreak Guild- This guild is along the east side of the pond and office with the sunny john toilet nestled in its protective covering.
- Frost dam – Frost coming off the mountain is diverted around the site and falls off away from the gardens.
- Native Oak Guild
- Perennial Rows in the Alley Crop System
In the case of a forest guild, self regulating means the that individual plants interact with each other supplying nutrients or homes for various animals. These beneficial insect, birds and animals feed and manure the forest floor helping in the process of the guild by mulching and fertilizing. By creating the setting appropriate to native species we set in motion more natural processes than we could begin to do with a human labor force.
A few examples of elements in a forest guild:
- Silver Buffaloberry: Fixes Nitrogen
- Chokecherry: Human and native species forage
- Creeping Oregon grape: Food and ground cover
- Strawberry: Food and ground cover
- Apple Tree: Food, Shade, biomass
- Dill: Food, beneficial insect attractant
- Daffodils: Rodent repellant