Grow Food like a Forest

Use multiple layers of mostly perennial plants

Increase productivity and reduce inputs

Build soil and and resilience to wind, rain or drought


In this video an orchardist transitions 5 Hectares to a food forest
and describes its multiple benefits.

Project Description

Miracle Farms is a members-only u-pick permaculture orchard. With 100 cultivars of apples, 16 cvs of pear, 3 cvs of plums and 6 cvs of cherry on 5 hectares (12 acres) our goal is to restore the Wow factor to foods. We grow small fruit (raspberry, strawberry, red and black currant, gooseberry and haskap), herbs, flowers, annual and perennial vegetables among the trees. In the grassy lanes we raise chickens, turkey, guinea fowl, ducks and geese in mobile pens. Stefan Sobkowiak the orchardist in this video, has agreed to join us via an online connection for a two-hour session on one of the block courses which make up the Food Forest Design certificate.

Thinking like a forest

Trees are of course at the heart of things. How could it be otherwise? The human lineage began in trees. We have left our ancestors far behind but we are creatures of the forest still. 

Colin Tudge, The Secret Life of Trees

moss2In this beautiful article by Dion, a Kiwi living with his partner Asako in Japan, suggests that “As perennial forage systems forest gardens are horticultural, they have already left agriculture behind.

Their sufficiency is due in part to the diversity of species and a mimicry of naturally occurring ecosystems but this can be taken much further by adapting ourselves to our garden homes: if you want to eat an agricultural diet then you will continue to need agriculture!

Eating a diet that resembles that of our pre-agricultural ancestors makes feeding oneself from a forest garden that much easier.

Food Forest Design course cancelled

On Wednesday I met with Steve Henry from Otago Polytechnic today, the last person I needed to check in with before making a difficult decision about the course.

The numbers of committed participants was only two, and though there was another two who are reasonably sure to pay and commit, that would still only be half way to the minimum numbers needed. I didn’t want to leave it to the last minute as I did with the North Island course, so we have decided to cancel the course.

change of plans cancelledJon Foote and I have been having several discussions about it, and in Wednesday’s conversation with Steve, we’ve now all expressed the view that the evidence is pointing to the certificate course not being the right format for education in this arena. As a result Jon and I have begun planning other forms of Food Forest education, though they won’t be backed by Otago Polytechnic’s qualification structure.

I trust that everything happens for a reason. Like a young regenerating forest we may not be able to yet see it’s mature expression, and there will be some plants which don’t survive in the early stages, but for certain the forest will come back and in time grace us with its beauty and abundance.