The voedselbos, the food forest
We went together with Denise Rijnen to help plant the first trees of a future “Food forest” in the west of Amsterdam. It is a field now but will become a completely self sustainable forest in the decades to come. On that day we planted hawthorn and other trees to form ‘walls’ in order to protect the futur berry bushes and apple trees from the strong wind and birds.
Building a food forest demands a startup period (design and administrative work) of two to three years before planting. Around 5 more years of focus and attention are needed to make sure that the trees and bushes are growing smoothly (droughts, floods, extreme heat or extreme cold can put the crops at risk). Then on it goes.
Food forests allow the harvesting of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables roots, tubers, mushrooms, edible flowers, honey, wood and medicinal herbs.
In general, a food forest is relatively inexpensive as it shelters permanent food crops (not annual like grain) which do not require labor, farming nor fertilizers. (30,000 euros per hectare (100m x100m :) is needed. Food forests can be organized on a local and regional level which can foster collaboration of local entities and collectives such as food cooperatives, restaurants, processing companies (to produce jars of jam for example), marketing and recycling ergo the development of local economies
Thanks in part to the layered structure and the use of a wide variety of edible species, a food forest offers a suitable habitat for many birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. In comparison with regular forests, a well-designed food forest generally gets a better score.
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