Building a “food forest”

We’re creating our version 1.0 food forest. It’s a system of food crops arranged to mimic a natural’s forest ecosystem. Our fruit trees are the top canopy, berry bushes the mid-canopy, with normal vegetables making up the remaining forest layers.

It’s been fun to build, although quite a bit of work and I blew my budget by a factor of 3X. Several times during the construction I wondered if this was my version of a mid-life crisis. It probably is. Oh well, it least a food forest is more productive for my family than a little red sports car.

We started with this sketch of an existing site on our property where I had installed deer fencing and drip irrigation already for 15 fruit trees and a handful of raised beds. I had already chipped rough stairs out of our heavy clay soil. We laid out the pathways between the existing two year old fruit trees with tape. We then brought in 30 yards of compost/dirt to build the new mounded beds.

This is the second of two loads. The first 15 yards of compost/dirt only made three beds (you can see them in the background). We could probably use a third load, but I’m *really* tired of hauling dirt up and down this hill. We’ll expand next spring for version 2.0.

Note to self: a truck containing 15 yards of moist compost/dirt is pretty darn heavy. Heavy enough that it will snap any irrigation piping in the ground that it rolls over. Oops. This one only cost me $4 to fix, but several hours of digging to find the broken pipe.

Next up, planting the mid-canopy berry bushes for the food forest and lining the paths with wood chips.