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.

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.

Preparation for Food Forest Design course

Food-Forest-NZQA-TutorsWe’re only three weeks away from starting the first 19-week Food Forest Design course, and I’ve put together some resources for the people wanting to lay some foundations for this.

For anyone wanting to get a foundation understanding of this subject, these are some of the highlights of the abundance of content that has become available over the last couple of years.


And if you’re really keen



UPDATE: The North Island course had to be cancelled due to insufficient numbers, but two of the people registered for it are transferring to the South Island course beginning in July.