You can find some of our most frequently asked questions here! If you still have a question or want to help us, visit our contact page!
Who gets to harvest food from public food forests?
Everybody. No requirements, no qualifications, no exceptions.
What about vandals?
In the first few years, a forest garden is vulnerable to vandalism, just as community and private gardens. However, the older it gets, the more resilient it becomes. A mature walnut tree takes a lot more abuse than a tomato plant.
How long will it take to get established?
The answer partially depends on which plants make up the food forest. A food forest will take longer than an annual bed to reach its true potential. However, a food forest will last much longer than an annual bed, and the return on investment (of time) is exponential.
But while we are waiting for nut and fruit trees to mature, we will certainly be able to take advantage of the copious amounts of sunshine available without a mature canopy. We will be able to plant annuals in that space during the food forest’s youth. After all, that is how succession works.
A food forest should not have a stagnant design. It is ever-evolving, just like nature.
Who will manage the food forests?
Project Food Forest can act as a partner to design and help get the food forest established along with the passionate, committed local leaders it takes to make a public food forest sustained and maintained. The most brilliant aspect of food forests is that they mimic nature, and thus, once established do not need a lot of inputs.
If, hopefully and eventually, we have many immature food forests needing care in one year, we will train and utilize passionate staff and volunteers. Training citizens to care for food forests will be an important educational function that will help further our mission to teach about sustainable food growing.
What about winter?
Our food system has evolved along with fossil fuel usage. We are accustomed to having any and all food types available throughout the year. There still will be food available all year from all the formats we currently use, and Project Food Forest does not foresee being able to provide all of the food needed by all of the hungry in the cities we serve.
However, Project Food Forest will be utilizing all the forms of storage and preservation that have always been used. We can store winter squash, hazelnuts, and apples (among many others) with no preservation or energy needed. We can preserve foods such as gooseberries, peaches, and brocolli raab (among many others) with canning, freezing, and fermentation. Beans can be dried, potatoes and cabbage can be stored, tomatoes and grapes can be dried, American Persimmons can just hang out on the trees into winter.
Another option, especially for greens, is season extension. Cold frames in particular are small and non-invasive to the landscape and to the eye.
How big does a food forest need to be?
A food forest can be 1/8 of an acre or 200 acres. Possibilities are limited only by the imagination.
How much food will it produce?
There is no clear-cut answer. And that’s a good thing. The yield of a monocultured field of grain can be pretty easy to predict. But time and time again, studies and experience have shown that this type of farming is detrimental to the soil, the ecosystem, and even our health.
A multi-tiered, polycultural, successional agroforestry system’s yield will vary every year, especially in its youth. In the beginning, most of the yields will be from annuals that thrive in the sunlight allowed in by saplings. As the years go by, the system will evolve from annuals to perennials, from short to tall, from limited life to high biodiversity.
The yields will depend on condition of the soil, the slope of the land, the solar aspect, the wind conditions, the deer pressure, the human pressure, and the weather from year to year. The site conditions will dictate which plants we can choose and how much those plants produce.
The yield of a system that mimics nature is not something we can accurately predict, but by taking that “risk”, we are rewarded with a resilience that is not possible with conventional farming methods.