Skip to Content

Forest gardening

« Back to Glossary Index

**History and Development of Forest Gardening**:
Forest gardening dates back to prehistoric times, influenced by hunter-gatherer practices.
– First Nation villages in Alaska had forest gardens as early as the 1930s.
– Forest gardens are common in the tropics and adapted for temperate climates by Robert Hart in the 1980s.
– Robert Hart’s model forest garden at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire featured a seven-layer system.

**Seven-Layer System in Forest Gardening**:
– Robert Hart structured forest gardens into seven layers: canopy, low-tree, shrub, herbaceous, rhizosphere, ground cover, and vertical.
– The system aimed to create a diverse and productive ecosystem using shade-tolerant perennial vegetables.
Intercropping was a key strategy employed in the seven-layer system.

**Further Development and Promotion**:
– The Agroforestry Research Trust in the UK conducts experimental forest gardening projects.
– Individuals like Ken Fern and Kathleen Jannaway advocated for a wider range of edible shade-tolerant plants in forest gardens.
– Kevin Bradley’s Edible Forest project in the US inspired similar initiatives globally.
– Various organizations and individuals have contributed to the development and promotion of forest gardening.

**Forest Gardening in Permaculture**:
– Bill Mollison integrated Robert Hart’s seven-layer system into permaculture design.
– Prominent permaculturalists like Graham Bell and Patrick Whitefield endorse forest gardening.
Forest gardening aligns with permaculture principles of sustainability and diversity, with resources available to educate about it.

**Notable Plants and Projects in Forest Gardening**:
– Plants like wild yam, cardamom, ginger, and chervil are commonly used in forest gardens.
– Projects like El Pilar in Belize-Guatemala, Känan Kaax in Santa Familia, and Beacon Food Forest in Seattle showcase successful forest gardening practices.
– Organizations like the Boston Food Forest Coalition and the Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute promote local forest gardens.

Forest gardening (Wikipedia)

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. Forest gardening is a prehistoric method of securing food in tropical areas. In the 1980s, Robert Hart coined the term "forest gardening" after adapting the principles and applying them to temperate climates.

Robert Hart's forest garden in Shropshire
« Back to Glossary Index