Welcome Friends and Gardeners to the CSG Food Forest.
A definition of a Food Forest:
An edible forest garden is a perennial polyculture of multipurpose plants. Plants that provide food, medicine and more. While we take our cues from natural systems and use our observational and interactive skills to form a design. We select species based on their relationships or functional connections in such a way that they mimic the structure and functions found in a natural ecosystem. Yet these plant types vastly eclipse them in terms of productivity.
Forest gardening is an agricultural practice and concept that has been used for thousands of years by multiple cultures worldwide. Instead of working to dominate natural systems by imposing high-input annual agricultural systems and continuously fighting against succession (the natural evolution of landscapes from bare earth to ‘climax’ community) we utilize this natural evolutionary process to enable the development of high-yielding, low-maintenance, resilient agricultural systems. And what is more awesome is that these systems become more productive with time.
The Food Forest at CSG consists of three large plots called guilds using Permaculture and forest gardening techniques. Here is a a simple video which discusses some of this Permaculture Principles in Practice.
The core ethics of permaculture are:
- Take care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
- Take care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
- Share the surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.
The bulk of the food produced in the Food Forest is donated to the hungry and homeless via Sunnyvale Cares and St. Vincent de Paul. This program has been successfully running since 2006 with remarkable consistency. For more information contact Art at email@example.com.
At the Charles Street Gardens Food Forest we use a 7 layer technique to continue to create a thriving ecosystem.
New Videos available about Food Forest plants and happenings can be accessed by visiting my Youtube Channel
On my channel there are examples of my continuing series about Nutraceuticals (a word which combines“nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”)
Nutraceuticals describes a food or food product that provides health and medical benefits. These are perennial foods which are easy to grow and can help with the prevention and treatment of disease.
Some examples here:
Autumn Olive or Elaeagnus – an amazing anti-oxidant!
Black Currants and their medicinal use.
There are 96 separate beds at Charles St. Gardens and over 13 separate unique gardens of which the Food Forest is the largest. I am the founder andteam leader of the three Food Forest Guilds. This hive was found in a Pineapple Guava in the Citrus Guild.
More on the 7 layer technique.
The practice of using a 7 Layer Sequence – the positioning of species depends on many variables, including their requirements for shelter, light, moisture, good/bad companions, mineral requirements, pollination, pest-protection, etc.
- Canopy trees – the highest layer of trees. We are growing Hazelnuts he species of the genus Corylus Persimmon [Diospyros virginiana], Apples [Malus], Plums [Prunus domestica], even Sapote has been added to the mix.
- Small trees and large shrubs, mostly planted between and below the canopy trees. Autumn Olive and Goumi Elaeagnus spp, .White Peace, Paw Paws
- Shrubs which are also shade tolerant. Including common species like currants [Ribes spp] and berries [Rubus spp], plus others like chokeberries [Aronia spp],
- Herbaceous perennials, several of which are herbs and will also contribute to the ground cover layer by self-seeding or spreading. These include Comfreys [Symphytum spp], Balm [Melissa officinalis], Mints [Mentha spp], Sage [Salvia officinalis],
- Ground covers, mostly creeping carpeting plants which will form a living mulch for the ‘forest floor’. Some may be herbaceous perennials like creeping Thyme, others include wild gingers [Asarum spp], cornels [Cornus canadensis], Gaultheria spp, and carpeting brambles (eg. Rubus calycinoides & R.tricolor).
- Climbers and vines. These are generally late additions to the garden, since they obviously need sturdy trees to climb up. Including the likes of Akebia
- The final ‘layer’ is the root zone or rhizosphere. Which takes in account of different rooting habits and requirements of different species, even if root crops are not grown much. One type is Yacon a perennial plant grown in the Andes of Perú for its crisp, sweet-tasting tubers.
The primary aims for the system are:
- to be biologically sustainable, able to cope with disturbances such as climate change
- to be productive, yielding a number (often large) of different products
- it should require low maintenance.
Plum Guild: Santa Rosa Plum in center back flanked by White Nectarine and Blenheim Apricot Table Grapes on the side
Citrus Guild: Valencia Orange, Pixie Tangerine and Mandarin along with Three Kinds of Guava, Blueberries, Strawberries in the front, Blackberries on the Northern Edge and Paw Paws in the back section.
The Woodland Forest is the largest bed 20′ x 55′
Thanks for visiting and I am available for consultation on how to set up an Edible Food Forest by emailing me here: