This food garden utilizes a concept designed to mimic some elements of a natural ecosystem, to provide food for people, birds and pollinators and habitat for wildlife.
The design is based on permaculture principles and a design philosophy that seeks to grow food in ways that do not require fertilizer or artificial pest control; mimicking patterns and relationships found in nature. For example, each plant is placed in a spot that meets its light, water and soil requirements thus eliminating the need for irrigation. Most of the plants here are perennials which means they will come back year after year.
Permaculture is based on a number of principles. One is called stacking functions. This means that every element from plant choice and the presence of a pond to structures and pathways have multiple functions in the landscape. For example, the willows in the willow tunnel have at least three purposes. One is to take up some of the water that makes this area so damp. The second is to provide visual interest and shade. The third is to produce stem clippings that can be used as mulch or to make fences and sculptures.
When the food forest is mature, it will provide fruits, nuts, berries, leafy greens, medicinal roots and leaves for people. Certain species of plants will make nitrogen available for other plants. There will be nectar for insects that pollinate the fruit and nut trees. Trees and shrubs will provide cover and nesting habitat for birds. Birds, in turn, will keep the insect populations in check. In nature, there is no waste; everything has a purpose.