Calling all budding food forest designers!

Would you like to be involved in Food Forest Design team?

Our tasks in the next 12 months will include:

  • Planning support plantings for stage 1 and all plantings for stage 2
  • Choosing and ordering tree varieties, choosing and sourcing support plants
  • Developing and trialing planting guilds
  • Recording outcomes
  • Organising information sessions / workshops to Friends understand the principles of forest gardening
  • Seeking design advice from critical friends / advisors such as Dan Pascal Harris, Seed Head Design (see link)

Short term priority:
The next Lyneham Commons activity will be planting pioneer plants – perennial nitrogen fixers – between our fruit trees. We want your help to select and source varieties perennial nitrogen fixers?

Bring your ideas to the inaugural Food Forest Design Team get together

Date and Time: Saturday 12 September at 2.30
Place: 176 Wattle Street Lyneham
RSVP by Thursday 10 September to

We will discuss:
How the Food Forest Design team might work
Perennial nitrogen fixers
How to plan for spring support plantings for stage 1
Identify a process for deciding guild plantings
What we need to learn and how we might do that

Some information to help focus your ideas and research into perennial nitrogen fixers

Functions we want the perennial nitrogen fixers to perform: Pioneer plants that grow quickly and provide some shelter for young trees, fix nitrogen, accumulate minerals, promote beneficial fungi, provide a habitat for some beneficial insects, provide source of mulch over time, can be removed as fruit and nut trees mature

Key qualities needed: Drought resistant, hardy shrub or tree, not a potential weed, will not compete excessively with fruit trees for water, easy to remove when no longer needed.

Decision making framework
You can find an indicative planting plan here;  the LC proposal endorsed by the community and approved by TAMS. It was created so that our proposal could be evaluated and commented upon by the community and is a good starting point.
Because an ecosystem is a dynamic living system design cannot be a one off upfront activity. However the framework and principles for ongoing design and planting decisions and staging of plantings are set by the agreement with TAMS and endorsement of the community of our proposal

To summarise the frame work set out:

  • Design decisions will use permaculture and ecological design principles and techniques to systematically think about how we can connect all the potential elements of our food forests ecosystem so that they will function together over time to produce sustainable planting produce a harvestable surplus.
  • We will work toward creating a cool climate food forest (see this link as defined by Dave Jake in His book Edible Forest Gardens
  • Edible species and varieties will be selected for:
    • resistance to disease, pathogens and pests
    • potential to realistically manage pests and diseases without the use of sprays and pesticides
    • fruiting outside peak pest times
    • low water requirements
    • hardiness to the extremes of the Canberra climate
    • suitableness to grow as part of a guild in our ecosystem;
  • Also we have agreed that guilds will include support plants that will:
    • protect and feed the beneficial soil organisms
    • ‘mine’ fertility from the air and sub-soil using nitrogen fixers and mineral accumulator plants,
    • provide living mulch,
    • provide food and shelter for beneficial birds, animals and insects, and
    • will not be potential weed plants

You might find ideas for planting in:
Dave Jake – Edible Forest Gardens 
Jeff Nugent Julia Boniface – Permaculture plants

Putting things into a longer term perspective:

  • A forest is a self-sustaining system. A mature food forest is a carefully planned ecosystem that mimics a forest and as a result of the connections between elements – requires few inputs.
  • It takes years for a forest to mature into a self-sustaining system.
  • We can speed up the natural processes involved with careful planning, but our food forest may never get to the point where it is self-sustaining.
  • The main barriers may be the availability of water and the climate change – perhaps extremes of weather

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