The Forest Garden – An Old Idea Rediscovered

Forest gardening is a technique that has been practiced in parts of the world since time immemorial, but it is only in the last few years that it has been adopted in temperate regions. In a way forest gardening is like a cottage garden on a grand scale with flowers and vegetables grown together with trees and shrubs. This article by Tomas Remiarz which I found on the Positive News website explains what is involved.

Forest gardens are spaces where trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables and flowers grow together in mixed patches, and in many layers. An agroecologist might call them a multi-storey cropping system. To me, they are unique spaces in which humans meet nature halfway, and where both feed off one another.
It is both an ancient, and a very new idea. In many tropical parts of the world, they have existed as home gardens since time immemorial. In the colder parts of the Northern hemisphere, they took off after Robert Hart returned from his travels in Kerala, southern India, harbouring dreams of edible forests.

A freshly foraged salad from Marietta Castellino?s garden in Margate, Kent, containing more than 100 species

In the three decades following Hart?s discovery, hundreds of experimental forest gardens have been planted all over the world. They can be found in cities and rural sites; in households and neighborhoods; in community gardens and parks; and in market gardens and plant nurseries.
So how do you make a forest gardener? Forest gardens are complex. There is no way around that. In fact, this partly explains why we set them up in the first place, eager to find a space more natural and wild than a wheat field or pine plantation.
To deal with this complexity, the competent forest gardener needs a diverse toolkit, each tool drawing upon four domains of understanding. Forest gardening is multidisciplinary; borrowing skills from ecology, horticulture, design, and communication alike.

See more at Positive News
Feature photo: Andrew Chapman