What is a Food Forest?


A Food Forest is a human designed edible forest ecosystem.

Imagine wandering through a flourishing forest

where almost every plant is edible and all plants serve a purpose…


Forest Garden by Graham Burnett

A mature Food Forest is comprised of taller canopy trees, usually nuts and fruits,

with a sub-canopy of berries and shrubs, followed by herbs and veggies below.

In the Pacific Northwest, a Food Forest consists of 7 Layers.

We can count 9 layers when including marshes and mushrooms!

Why a Food Forest?

Food Forests are living proof that industrial agriculture is not the only way to feed the world. In fact, we now recognize conventional agricultural practices to be a major contributor towards climate change, environmental destruction and desertification.

Monoculture methods of single-species crops results in the removal of entire ecosystemss1172-lg . This destroys top soil with yearly deep tilling, and pollutes our waters and earth with synthetic petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. The results are fragile, unhealthy, unnatural landscapes that depend upon a staggering amount of inputs in order to operate.

On the other end of the spectrum lies a Food Forest, as an example of a regenerative, resilient and time-tested method of growing food and cultivating humanity.  A food forest functions as a healthy closed-loop ecosystem, with each organism playing a role. Each element of the system supports the whole. The many relationships happening in an ecosystem are imitated in a food forest which:

  • builds soil and accumulates nutrients    mollison cover
  • self-fertilizes, self-mulches, self-regulates
  • produces  food, fiber, medicine, materials, fodder and more
  • Sequesters Carbon, offsetting climate change
  • provides habitat for all living organisms
  • supports pollinators and beneficial insects
  • protects and enhances biodiversity

    Mel Teague Sandy Post 2016

    Spring 2016: Teague and Mel (5 months pregnant) with a plant guild they designed and planted: Almond as the overstory, cardoons as a mulch plant, lupine to attract pollinators, seaberry as a nitrogen fixer/fertilizer, thyme, apple-mint, and strawberries as a ground cover.

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