Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review
This post is titled Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review. Wednesday night I watched the DVD “Establishing a Food Forest” which was presented by Geoff Lawton. This is at least the third time I have watched this 80-minute DVD and every time I watch it I still pick up something new.
Food Forest Definition
Before I get into the review of the DVD, lets define Food Forest. On Wikipedia, the term Food Forest re-directs to Forest Gardening. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Forest Gardening:
“Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.”
The DVD starts out with classroom lecture going over what a food forest is and how to design one. They go into looking at patterns of existing forests and the layers of a forest. The layers as described by Geoff are; canopy, understory, shrub, herbaceous, ground cover, vine/climbers, and root yield. He does go into a few additional layers that are specific to the tropics.
Many of these layers are support species planted for the future end results. He talks about support species as follows:
- Ground cover – hundreds of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 6 months. This could be clover or other nitrogen fixing ground cover.
- Herbaceous / bush layer – tens of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 4 to 5 years. Examples are certain legumes and peas.
- Understory layer – thousands of small trees that fix nitrogen that will survive 10 to 15 years.
- Canopy – hundreds of trees that will go full term.
- The above are all support species used just to fix the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients and provide mulch through chop and drop. Mixed in with all of the above will be our fruit and nut trees.
- In the beginning the mix will be 90/10. 90% of mass is support species and 10% is our fruit trees. As time goes on we end up with 10% of mass is support species and 90% is our fruit trees. This happens as the fruit trees get larger and the support species die out.
- The support species is coppiced, pollarded, and chop & dropped. This happens during the wet season, which is when there is more rainfall than evaporation.
After the classroom portion of the DVD, Geoff goes to the field and plants a food forest into a swale at the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI). He demonstrates mixing a nitrogen fixing inoculant with some legumes (cowpea and lupin). He shows a large variety of plants that they are putting in, how to put them in and why.
He then goes back to that same swale after 3 months and gives you a tour, shows the progress and explains what is going on. He talks about too many grass hoppers not being a grass hopper problem but a deficiency in Turkeys. He talks about too many slugs/snails not being a slug/snail issue but a deficiency in ducks. He also demonstrates “feed the forest” by doing some chop and drop.
He shows fungus being the “teeth” of the forest and explains how the fungus is breaking down the dead plant life to feed the living. He shows how chickens help establish a food forest and also explains how a food forest is low maintenance once established.
He shows a kitchen garden that has over 400 species of plants in it. He goes on to explain how all of the diversity confuses the pest and how they make climates attractive to predator insects to predate on those confused pests.
My thoughts on this DVD are that it is a wonderful learning resource and I wouldn’t understand why anyone that likes gardening doesn’t want to put in a food forest after watching this DVD. It is also one of the reasons I put a food forest in last year and will put more in going forward. It is a wonderful concept and I enjoy the thought of high yield and low maintenance in the future.
In addition to the 80-minute main feature, there are five clips in the bonus section of the DVD:
- 30-Year-Old Food Forest – 10-minute video walk through of a 30-year-old food forest in Thailand. Most of the plants in this clip are tropical and likely wouldn’t grow in temperate climate North America.
- 300-Year-Old Food Forest – a 6-minute video walk through of a 300-year-old food forest in Hanoi.
- 2000-Year-Old Food Forest – a 4+ minute video walk through of a 2000-year-old food forest in Morocco. This video has many fruits that do grow in North America.
- Permaculture World Wide – a 4+ minute video about how to grow permaculture plants world wide and how to raise funds to do so.
- Harvesting Water DVD – This is the trailer for another of Geoff’s videos “Harvesting Water DVD”
According to Wikipedia: “Geoff Lawton is a permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. Since 1995 he has specialized in permaculture education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development.”
He is Managing Director of The Permaculture Research Institute – www.permaculturenews.org. and is the go-to practicing expert on anything permaculture.
To Buy the DVD:
A downloadable copy of the DVD can be bought at:
The physical DVD can be bought at:
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