About Food Forests

Food Forest Design Principles and Philosophy

When designing and planting a Food Forest, the plants will create an ecosystem and food web, whether we know it or not. Choosing to design these relationships consciously, so we work with nature and not against it, maximizes our chances of success.

An ecosystem is a dynamic living system so design cannot be a one off upfront activity. We have and will continue to use permaculture and ecological design principles and techniques to systematically think about how we can connect all the potential elements of our ecosystem so that they will function together over time to produce a harvestable surplus.

Our perennial tree system will be designed using permaculture principles to:

(i) Mimic nature and so will be largely self renewing and self maintaining

  • Plant selection and connection: select plants appropriate to the site as it changes; plant them over time so they support each other in beneficial guilds
  • Build a healthy soil community: reduce and prevent compaction, improve water infiltration, protect and feed the beneficial soil organisms with mulch
  • Build soil fertility: initially add compost and rock dust, ‘mine’ fertility from the air and sub-soil using nitrogen fixers and accumulator plants, retain all healthy plant material on-site
  • Encourage beneficial organisms: provide food and shelter for beneficial birds, animals and insects

(ii) Protect and restore health to the local ecosystem

  • Provide habitat for beneficial species using regionally native plants
  • Exclude potential weed species and avoid runoff into Sullivan’s Creek
  • Systematically use organic gardening practices

(iii) Produce food and meet identified needs of the Lyneham community

  • Plants species of fruit, nut and edible perennial plants suitable for growing in Canberra, selected for hardiness and resistance to pests and pathogens
  • Protect the safety of the community of users by identifying potential hazards or risks to safety and eliminate or minimize the risks
  • Respect privacy and views of neighbours
  • Involve Lyneham residents in the design, development and maintenance

(iv) Be of minimal cost to the community and environment

  • Technologically simple infrastructure and easily accessible for maintenance
  • Capture local rainfall and local storm water and infiltrate into soil as efficiently as possible
  • Protect existing utilities and infrastructure

(v) Be a beautiful place where people want to be

  • Protect Lyneham community access and amenity to the area
  • Enhance the aesthetic value of the area

(vi) Help us learn to take our rightful place as part of nature doing nature’s work, rather than as separate entities intervening in and dominating the natural world

  • Design to support others in Lyneham growing fruit and nut crops to deal with pest plants, insects and disease