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Maybe you’re asking “What in the world is a Florida Food forest?” or maybe you’ve heard the term “food forest” and want to know more.
A Food Forest is similar to “Permaculture” but I think of it as a little less well groomed..even a bit unkempt..like the woods.
In our part of Florida forests thrive but try to grow a vegetable garden like you may have done it “up north” and you’ll probably wind up frustrated. Take a walk out into the woods and really look at how God grows plants naturally. There are larger trees interspersed with smaller trees, large bushes, smaller plants, ground cover and finally vines. These plant varieties naturally arrange themselves to get the light they need. Leaves and branches fall throughout the year, plants die, and all of that matter drops to the ground to be turned back into good soil to feed the plants themselves. Animals also play a part in this by relieving themselves in the woods and even dying.
So all this littering and dying improves the soil and continues the life cycle. We don’t have to go out there and fertilize or water. The woods just continues to grow.
An established Food Forest works similarly but initially, there is a bit of care involved. Of course you will choose fruiting trees, shrubs, bushes, ground covers and vines that do really well in our climate and have a good chance of surviving and in the beginning you’ll feed and water them a bit until they take off on their own.
It’s also helpful to grow trees and shrubs in the food forest that are “nitrogen fixers”. In other words, you can prune and harvest branches from these plants and spread them around the base of your fruiting plants and they’ll rot down and feed the soil…just like certain plants in the woods.
This is a pretty basic description of a Food Forest but hopefully, you get the idea…less work on your part and a happier natural life for the fruiting trees and plants with an abundant harvest for you to enjoy.
Our Food Forest is about a month old but we’re already enjoying some of the fruits and watching others as they get accustomed to their new home. We are blessed with an abundance of deer so we’ve had to provide extra protection with temporary chicken wire barriers to keep from providing a smorgasbord for our little friends. The chicken wire also keeps our free range chickens away from the young plants but they can still get close enough to fertilize around the plants which they do liberally.
Lots going on here now after only one month! Here at 4 Bees Herb Farm we have many vegetables and herbs to plant among the trees and shrubs if you are considering putting in a Food Forest.
More info on growing a Florida Food Forest can be found on David the Good’s website thesurvivalgardener.com
We’re open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-4 941-322-2446
16371 Jomar Rd., Sarasota, FL 34240