WHAT IS A FOOD FOREST
ABOUT THE SITE
Permaculture refers to permanent agriculture, and is a knowledge base of time tested agriculture strategies, common sense, and observations of natural systems, patterns and ecology to inform the resilient and sustained production of food for human consumption and increased bio-diversity through the provision of niche and diversified wildlife habitat.
Food forests, specifically, are based on the observation and understanding of the forms and patterns found in forest ecologies and to apply them to a selection of plants safe for human consumption. Food forests take 3-5 years to establish and (up to 10 years) to start serving as self reliant ecosystems, not dependent on external sources for food. Food forests also aid in the regeneration of soil and the reclamation of desertification.
This website aids in the compilation of resources for developing food forests in temperate climates. It contributes by means of developing plant specification sheets for appropriate plant species. They are compiled of well researched facts as well as on-site experience over time. It explores permaculture ideas in the URBAN FOOD FOREST garden as well as through research and site visits to permaculture facilities in South Africa as well as abroad. The content of tis site is focused on plant information; tips on growing, harvesting and preserving produce; guilds and companion planting; and integrating various elements into a permaculture system.
ABOUT URBAN FOOD FOREST ZA
Freelance designer and curator of URBAN FOOD FOREST, formally trained as a landscape architect and urban designer.
Passionate about creating, design thinking, self sustainability and green infrastructure.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
Urban Food Forest is an urban permaculture farm of just over an acre. It is situated on the southern slopes of a hill, 3,5km from the city center of Pretoria, South Africa, in an area which was historically the last outpost of the old town. The context is urban/suburban and boasts a large open space network and a small stream with some natural area. Pretoria has lost much of the urban culture of cultivating food in the home garden in the last 30 years. Urban Food Forest aims to become a demonstration garden for urban permaculture and sustainable urban food security.The idea for Urban Food Forest was conceived out of the notion of food security as a form of urban resilience, during a holiday trip to Greece, and a growing discomfort with non natural food sources and processes. It is continually developing into a more resilient and productive space. It is also a test space for different permaculture practices with a trial and error method of learning, with added input and correspondence with local permaculturists, and a whole lot of time spent researching.Although the urban food forest is a concept that has been in development circa 2008, it was only officially conceived in October of 2016.Urban Food Forest has been developed on a residential erf which has been left derelict for over 10 years. The existing vegetation developed into a forest system consisting of apex trees and shrubs. The advantage of this landscape is the large amount of organic matter, but as it was almost in total shade, there was a lack of ground covers and some exposed ground that required remediation. The gardens have been partially operational since 2015, and were converted to deep mulched permaculture gardens in 2016. The oldest planted fruit trees are going for their 3rd year in the ground in 2017. There are also a few gems in the garden from its previous occupation 20 years ago. These include avo, lemon, guava, fig, mulberry, olive and grapes.
CURRENT PROJECTS AT URBAN FOOD FOREST ZA
# Expanding the kitchen gardensIntroducing various applications for urban gardens including vertical garden systems. Increasing diversity and companionship of vegetables. Planting up the edges of the site with edible fences.
# Introducing small livestockSmall animals currently consisting of chickens and rabbits. There are also wild fowl in the hillside that could be incorporated into a structured system. Growing fodder for animals amongst the kitchen gardens, food forest and dedicated fodder plots. Excess quick growing greens are used to supplement food. Excess herbs are used for nesting to deter pests. Kitchen scraps also go to the chickens. Chickens provide eggs for eating and manure for composting and sheet mulch. Rabbits provide small rabbits and meat for sale and manure forcomposting.# Developing an aquaculture and gravity fed irrigation system. The area is currently being irrigated through pressurized agricultural irrigation from a bore hole. Work is under way to develop a more sustainable gravity fed system to move water through the site by means of swales and irrigation channels. Rainwater is also captured through this system and sunk into the ground on site. There are future plans to include aquaponics systems and retention dams in case of storm events, as well as converting and incorporating the existing pool into the water catchment and filtration system by converting to a natural pool.
# Moving the mobile nursery to an established greenhouse.Work is currently under way to establish a new greenhouse and tree nursery to aid the growth of small and vulnerable plants. The nursery currently functions as a mobile system following the sun throughout the seasons.
# Vermiculture systems.Composting by means of compost worms. Worms mainly compost manure and scraps or damaged plant material. Worm containers are integrated into rabbit hutch and in proximity of composting goods. Compost is added to individual plants and introduced as direct feeds through worm tunnels.# Developing the food forest.The food forest is located on a slope of 25 to 45 percent on the south facing slope of a hill. Tasks involve removing and composting existing invasive shrubs and trees through hugelcultures also forming the swale system for irrigation. Establishing sections of the food forest with tree guilds. Propagating perennial vegetables, herbs and berries, as well as nitrogen fixers and other guild plants. Grafting fruit trees onto rootstock. Propagating fruit trees from cuttings
# Building community