A No-Maintenance Garden: Edible Forest Gardens

An Edible Forest Garden, or Food Forest, is a low maintenance sustainable area with a collection of edible plants, shrubs and trees designed to mimic natural ecosystems. By design, an Edible Forest Garden requires no tilling, weeding, fertilizing or irrigation as soon as the area has reached maturity.

In contrast to the intensive crop systems of annual plants at many farms, an Edible Forest Garden is largely self-sustaining by incorporating perennials plants and trees that require little maintenance, other than some pruning and harvesting. Instead of a garden that needs to be planted every year, imagine a productive forest of fruits, nuts, berries, flowers and other perennial herbs and greens that are naturally pollinated, control pest with beneficial insects, and reproduce abundantly every year. An area with food producing plants in several levels from the strawberries growing in the soil to the tall trees dropping walnuts into our laps in Fall.

food_forest_layersImage source: Permaculture a Beginner’s Guide, by Graham Burnett

Edible Forest Gardens first became popular in North America in the 1980s. The concept has gained popularity in recent years as one way for cities and communities to address food insecurity. Today, there are over 70 public Food Forests in the US. The largest is the 7.1 acre Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill in Atlanta, Georgia. Edible forest gardens can be planted in small areas such as an empty residence plot, or as small park areas as well as larger areas such as the example from Atlanta. Besides providing much needed food to communities, edible forest gardens is also a sanctuary for pollinators, insects and birds, as well as places for people meet and to getting a better understanding of the natural world.

One World Center has designed an edible forest garden on a 1-acre area, where we will grow over 70 different trees, scrubs, plants, vegetables, herbs and flowers. In 2021 we will prepare the soil following principles of organic gardening, so that the edible forest garden is ready to be planted in 2022. We are very excited to take on this new adventure, learning as we go from other people in Michigan who are growing edible forest gardens and through reading, research, and debating.

We envision a future for Michigan with edible forest gardens in every city around the state, where people come together, enjoy these sanctuaries provided by the natural world, while eating good nutrition rich food. If you are interested in growing food organically, getting engaged in your community, and being a part of establishing the One World Center Edible Forest Garden, come and join us. 

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