What would you do if I told you that you could have a production system that is low maintenance high productivity and sustainable? Go on think about your garden and your inputs (fertilizer, seed, gas) then how much you get out and how much work you have to put in to make it happen. What is a food forest?
Seems pretty daunting! When I was young I was told “Everything worth having is worth working for”. Excluding the poor English it is a good idea. Think about it. You want your education you have to put in the effort. You want a good relationship once more work for it. You want a nice house and a nice job them with luck and hard work you can have it but I would argue that you can probably achieve it with hard work and making your own luck (by being sensitive to your limits including budget and time etc etc). That all being said you have to work for what you want.
Every project has a start but in order for you to know where you need to start you need to know where you want to finish. In this case we decided we wanted to do a wood chip food forest that would contain fruit trees, perennial veggies and berries. We do not anticipate that this will have any annuals in it. So the first thing is to source some wood chips. Luckily I saw a tree trimmer working on some power lines and asked him if they would be willing to dump their chipped branches on our property. They agreed.
Depending on your space you may be able to get multiple drops. We expect to have a need for all of the chips so we asked them to just dump when they were in the area on our land. They have agreed but only dropped one load so far. Total cost was $0. They were appreciative of a local and convenient drop space.
I was mentioning that if you want something you have to work for it in order for it to have value. The first step is getting the sourcing because that will dictate what you can do. Second step is to decide what you want to grow. The next step is decide if you have enough space (the answer is yes but you may need to scale your dream appropriately). Then look at local rules and laws. Thankfully we are in a rural agricultural area so there are no issues. Then finally you can get started on putting your wood chips down. We will be fencing the area off so the deer and the antelope (okay not really) and bunnies will not come through and cause issues for our young plants and trees.
We are planning on having multiple fruit trees. Pink Lady apples are a favorite for me. We found a supplier that says they will work in zone 5B. We also have to be concerned with chill hours. Which are the number hours that the tree will be exposed to temperatures between 45 and 32 degrees.
We are in an area with between 1200 and 1400 hours. This could be difficult for some species. However the larger concern is the hardiness zone.
We will also have granny smith apples as a pollinator for the pink lady, Two or three cherry trees, a fig (Chicago fig should do okay here), Plum and peach. In the under-story will expect to grow straw berries, asparagus, Grapes, and other berries.
The work will not be so much in weeding since the wood chips act as a mulch. The work comes in maintenance, pruning, harvesting, fencing, adding wood chips as the previous ones break down.
There is a good amount of work that this will require but fresh perennial fruits for many years to come is just to much of a good deal to pass up.
We will keep you posted as this happens. We also will have bees to help our local indigenous pollinators.
KEEP checking back. Also comment if you have questions or suggestions.