COULD FOOD FORESTS BE THE FUTURE FOR ORCHARDS?
You will know that the Park has an orchard that was planted a few years ago. Some of you might have helped to plant it. It was created as a Community Garden and to maintain expertise we keep in contact with the Orchard Project, a national organisation for such orchard managers. This article is from their latest newsletter, which I feel will interest many park users.
Forest Gardens, or Food Forests (as they are known in the US), have been championed among permaculture advocates for decades. For the uninitiated, forest gardens are low maintenance ecosystems involving a wide range of edible or useful plants and fungi grown in layers; a canopy of fruit and nut trees at the top, going down to tubers and roots at the lowest level. Given that fruit and nut trees nearly always feature in forest gardens, we’ve broadened our concept of community orchards to include these versatile spaces.
Future-proofing community orchards amidst our changing climate is of great concern to us, and we believe that forest gardens have many convincing benefits which would both safeguard the fruit trees and embellish the local environment. In fact, we believe they should be recognised more widely as a nature-based solution for sustainable food production. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- They sequester more carbon from the atmosphere.
- They are designed to adapt to changes in climate, and resilience of the fruit trees is boosted by the understory layers (e.g. wind buffering, absorption of more surface water etc.)
- A wider variety of plants attracts a more diverse range of critters and creatures, from the winged and the feathered, to the six-legged kinds.
Just two of the heritage varieties of apple in the Community Orchard: Beauty of Bath and Star of Devon
If you wish to learn more about this concept, then look at Could urban food forests be the future for orchards? – Launching our new Forest Gardening course – The Orchard Project .
The apple trees will be in blossom shortly, so will be worth a walk in that direction in a few weeks time.