How Much Land Is Needed To Grow A Permaculture Food Forest?


Food Forest Produce

Growing your own food means that you will always know what you are eating, where the food has come from, and that the produce is toxin-free! These days there are so many ways that you can grow your own produce, from caring for a few small pots on your balcony to running a farm or a Homestead.

A permaculture food forest can grow just about anywhere, from your backyard to a farm. A food forest aims to mimic nature by allowing various plants to grow unaided in a self-sustaining ecosystem. The size of the available land determines the size of the food forest.

If you have the available space and the time, a food forest is a great way to ensure year-round fresh, healthy produce. What you grow depends on the size of the available growing space, but you can grow the food you need on any patch of land, no matter the size of the area!

The sooner you start planting, the quicker you will feed your family from your own home-grown produce from your food forest and perhaps earn additional income from the surplus! Let’s discuss what you need to get going.

Check Out The Article How Long Does It Take To Grow A Permaculture Food Forest?

How Much Land Is Required For A Permaculture Food Forest?

To start your food forest, you do need a patch of land. Permaculture food farms can be small enough to sustain your family or large enough for a commercial operation to create an income.

For any permaculture food farm to work, it should be self-sustaining, successful, and profitable. If not, there is no point in starting one as you will become discouraged and disappointed if the endeavor doesn’t work out as expected.

A thriving food forest is achievable and can happen with good planning and hard work.

So how much land is required for a permaculture food forest? – it depends! There are various models of profitable permaculture food farms. This article will discuss some of the models designed for the smaller grower and determine how to create a low-maintenance permaculture food forest.

Backyard Scale Food Forest

A backyard food forest can mean just that – a healthy food supply is grown in your backyard! You don’t need a large piece of land; in fact, a smaller patch in a suburban backyard is easier to maintain.

The beauty of a food forest is in the growing of the different plants. The idea is to mimic nature. Plants in their natural habitats don’t grow in straight lines or within certain areas or borders – they grow wherever they can.

To establish a self-seeding, low-maintenance, backyard food forest capable of feeding you and your family, you would probably need around 1/30th of an acre per person, which is 1450 square feet or 38 by 38 feet.

This figure is based on 2000lbs (900kgs) of fresh produce per person per year. To provide what you need, plant your food forest plants closely together to suppress weeds.

Companion planting is always a great way to ensure non-competing plants and good ground cover. The idea of a food farm is to cover all the bare soil with food-bearing plants. Add a few hours of sunlight every day and a good irrigation system, and your food forest will happily grow without any help from you!

Trees and shrubs are a great addition to your food forest. Nothing ever goes to waste in a food forest, so any unharvested fruit that lands on the ground will automatically reseed the forest, creating a sustainable food source.

If you have additional front garden space, convert that into a food forest too! The more space, the better to provide for your needs. Raised beds can be installed in areas that have proven to be hard to grow areas. Allow the beds to overflow with anything that will thrive in them.

Homestead Scale Food Forest

What could be better than a sprawling food forest naturally growing across your Homestead? Most Homesteaders live a life of self-sustainability, which includes living off the land and selling the surplus to create a small income.

Planting a food forest allows the Homesteader to concentrate on other important tasks without worrying about the food he will eat! A productive, self-maintaining ecosystem filled with edible plants of all shapes and sizes doesn’t need any further assistance from humans.

The size of the ground needed for this project could be anything from 1/10 acre to a 1 acre stretch of land or bigger, depending on the land available on the Homestead.

In fact, once the forest has been planned correctly, and the trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, and ground covers have been planted, the only job left for the Homesteader is to harvest the crops! Of course, the beauty of a working food forest is that the plants should self-seed and continue to grow, so there should always be an abundance of what you need each day!

When planning an edible food forest on your Homestead, consider the lay of the land, streams, and ponds that could provide nutrients to various plants and the position of the sun! Each plant has different needs and requirements to grow and thrive in its place in the forest ecosystem.

Small Farm Scale Food Forest

A small-scale farm could be any size from 1 acre and bigger. Growing a food forest on a small farm can be time-intensive initially, as it takes a few years to set up a flourishing ecosystem on a larger scale.

Establishing a self-sustaining food forest on a small farm involves a lot more planning before you begin. Depending on the size of the available ground, different areas or zones can be earmarked for different plants and produce.

For instance, an orchard can be established with fruit trees and low-growing plants in one zone, with a separate zone set aside as a foraging zone. The foraging zone would include anything from berries to carrots and nuts – anything that can be “foraged.”

A thriving small-scale farm permaculture food forest is planned using the seven-layer method:

  • Tall tree layer
  • Low tree layer
  • Shrub layer
  • Herbaceous layer
  • Ground cover layer
  • Vine layer
  • Root layer

Once the food forest has been established, it will become a self-sustaining, thriving ecosystem, providing you with more than enough produce for your own needs season after season!

Conclusion

A permaculture food forest is designed to grow in any available space or piece of land. What you plant initially is up to you, but you may find different plants growing once it is established because of pollinators attracted to your forest!

The forest is self-seeding, but you can always add different varieties to the growing mix as your needs change. By carefully planning your food forest, you will enjoy years of fresh produce with minimal effort!


Resources

Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden
  • Walliser, Jessica (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 12/22/2020 (Publication Date) - Storey Publishing, LLC (Publisher)

Last update on 2021-08-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Food Forest Handbook: Design and Manage a Home-Scale Perennial Polyculture Garden
  • Frey, Darrell (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 05/01/2017 (Publication Date) - New Society Publishers (Publisher)

Last update on 2021-08-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jacke, Dave (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1068 Pages - 11/15/2005 (Publication Date) - Chelsea Green Publishing (Publisher)

Last update on 2021-08-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Harold Thornbro

Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Public Speaker, Teacher, Homesteading and Permaculture Enthusiast. If You're Looking For Me, You'll Find Me In The Garden.

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