We were delighted to meet the guys running Bangor Food Forest at a location we were very familiar with being right next to the Beekeeping centre where we did our two day intensive beekeeping course. Their work was a revelation and I think we all left there buzzing with ideas. It prompted me to seek out Martin Crawford’s book on Food Forests which gave us further food for thought. It was an obvious way to grow fruit, nuts and perennial vegetables in an organic way.
So what is a food forest. By definition “A food forest (or forest garden) is a garden that mimics the structures of a natural forest, with multiple layers of plants stacked vertically to increase overall production.” When you create a food forest, you gain several advantages over a regular garden.
- Increased harvests by stacking crops and growing vertically.
- Less pest issues because of the overall complexity of the system.
- No need for inputs once it’s established.
It can be incredibly productive but this is no new hippy-dippy fad. Geoff Lawton found a 2,000 year old food forest in Morrocco. Incredibly, 800 people continue to farm this desert oasis. Among other edible plants, you’ll find date palms, bananas, olives, figs, pomegranate, guava, citrus, and mulberry.
It will take some time to realise this project but we have made a start by planting the trees that will provide the canopy whilst at the same time underplanting with fruiting bushes. We hope to have a good portion of the designated area planted with Welsh native apple and plum varieties and support the reestablishment of those fruits which were well documented in Wales in Victorian times but had all but disappeared in modern times. It is thanks to the tireless propagation work of Ian Sturrock that many have been rediscovered hiding across Wales. It will be wonderful to watch this project progress.