Synopses & Reviews
Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work. In Volume II, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier move on to practical considerations:concrete ways to design, establish, and maintain your own forest garden. Along the way they present case studies and examples, as well as tables, illustrations, and a uniquely valuable "plant matrix" that lists hundreds of the best edible and useful species.
Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.
Review from Bookwatch
Don't expect the usual light gardening guide reading, Volume 1 of Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture packs in serious surveys of the ancient practice of forest gardening, which offers homeowners and gardeners a new way of viewing modern home landscaping and nature. Useful plants can be blended to supply daily needs, the land can be 'untamed' to return support to healthy populations of plant and animal species. Years of experience goes into Edible Forest Gardens; this first volume provides a review of the ecological and cultural foundations for recognizing forest gardening as a viable ecological alternative in modern North America. Dave Jacke runs his own ecological design firm consulting on permaculture and landscapes around the world; his co-author Eric Toensmeier founded the former Perennial Vegetable Seed Company and has worked with the New England Small Farm Institute. A highly recommended pick; especially for college-level and serious collections on permaculture and horticulture.
A New Vision
Plants and Gardens News
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
by Patricia Jonas
But even if you grow enough organic food to feed yourself, are you doing what's best for the ecosystem? "Many drawbacks of modern agriculture persist in organic farming and gardening," Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier write in Edible Forest Gardens, because they do not "mimic the structure of natural systems, only selected functions." Even Quail Hill Farm members are still harvesting mostly annual crops grown in plowed fields. Jacke and Toensmeier offer a radical vision for stepping out of the conceptual continuum of conventional agriculture and organic farming. They point to the productivity of temperate forests--which is twice that of agricultural land in terms of net calories--and take that as their design model. Building on Robert Hart's classic book, Forest Gardening, and incorporating permaculture practice, Jacke and Toensmeier propose a garden where many species of edible perennial plants are grown together in a design that mimics forest structure and function.
Edible Forest Gardens is an ambitious two-volume work whose influence should extend well beyond ecologists and permaculturists and, in the best of all outcomes, reach into the mainstream. Volume one lays out the "Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture," and it also includes a very useful analysis of existing forest gardens (one only 50 by 90 feet) and a tantalizing 30-page appendix of "top 100" species. As of this writing, volume two, which focuses on practical design and maintenance considerations, is just being released, but on the evidence of volume one, I have no doubt the set will be an indispensable reference for gardeners and farmers for decades.
"When people have food gardens," the authors write, "they usually are tucked out of sight and out of view of the neighbors. They rely on external inputs of energy, nutrients, insect and disease controls, and water and are based primarily on annual plants. For some reason, growing food is considered unsightly, unseemly, possibly antisocial, and in some towns and cities, illegal! The tremendous infrastructure we have built in our cities and towns reflects a culture and horticulture of separation and isolation." The consequences of such attitudes about growing food have been disastrous, and each of us can contribute to the repair effort. Jacke and Toensmeier say that the principles of forest gardening can be applied even in a tiny urban yard or on a rooftop. Containers of edible perennials and annuals on a rooftop are not most farmers' idea of agriculture, but I grow nearly 20 percent of the authors' top 100 species and intend to look for ways to take this small start much further.
And what about chocolate and oranges? Clearly there are foods that cannot be grown in a temperate forest. "We do not expect forest gardening to replace regular gardening or the foods we know and love," the authors admit. "Just how far we can take forest gardening in supplying food for ourselves is not yet determined." Finding the answer may be the most optimistic work gardeners and farmers can do.
Already a popular growing method in Australia, permaculture is gaining ground in America, and Edible Forest Gardens is the authoritative sourcebook for designing amazingly productive permaculture gardens in a temperate climate. Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work. The two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening?one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.
About the Author
Dave Jacke has been a student of ecology and design since the 1970s, and has run his own ecological design firm--Dynamics Ecological Design--since 1984. Dave is an engaging and passionate teacher of ecological design and permaculture, and a meticulous designer. He has consulted on, designed, built, and planted landscapes, homes, farms, and communities in the many parts of the United States, as well as overseas, but mainly in the Northeast. A cofounder of Land Trust at Gap Mountain in Jaffrey, NH, he homesteaded there for a number of years. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Simon's Rock College (1980) and a M.A. in Landscape Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design (1984). You may reach Dave at email@example.com.
Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figures
Introduction: An Invitation to Adventure
What Is an Edible Forest Garden?
Gardening LIKE the Forest vs. Gardening IN the Forest
Where Can You Grow a Forest Garden?
The Garden of Eden: It Sounds Great, But Is It Practical?
An Invitation to Adventure
Part One: Context and Vision
1: The Forest and the Trees
The Primal Forest: A Remembrance
Gardening the Forest
Feature Article 1: Natives and Exotics: Definitions and Questions
Gardening in the Industrial Image
Box 1-1: Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor
2: Visions of Paradise
Study of the Household: Ecology Defined
Tales of Mimicry
Advantages of Forest Mimicry
The Limitations of Forest Mimics
Spanning the Gamut: Images of Forest Gardens
Goals of Forest Gardening
Revision--the Garden of Eden?
Box 2-1: The Principle of Functional Interconnection
Case Study 1: Charlie's Garden
Part Two: Ecology: Form and Function in the Forest Garden
3: The Five Elements of Forest Architecture
Feature Article 2: With All These Layers, What Do I Grow in the Shade?
Box 3-1: The Principle of Relative Location
Case Study 2: Robert's Garden
4: Social Structure: Niches, Relationships and Communities
Species, Species Niches, and Species Relationships
Multi-Species Interactions: Frameworks of Social Structure
Feature Article 3: Natives and Exotics, Opportunists and Invasives
Social Structure Design: Strategies and Anchors
Box 4-1: Niche Analysis: Everybody Does It
Box 4-2: The Principle of Multiple Functions
Box 4-3: The Principle of Stress and Harmony
Box 4-4: The Competitive Exclusion Principle
Box 4-5: The Cropping Principle
Box 4-6: The Principle of Redundancy
Box 4-7: The Polyculture Partitioning Principle
Box 4-8: Ecological Analogs
5: Making A Living In The Dark: Structures of the Underground Economy
The Anatomy of Self-Renewing Fertility
Feature Article 4: Parent Materials: The Soil's Nutritional Constitution
Plant Roots: Engines of the Underground Economy
The Soil Food Web
Summary: Dabbling In The Underground Economy
Box 5-1: The Concept of Limiting Factors
Box 5-2: Specific Replant Disease
6: Succession: Four Perspectives on Vegetation Dynamics
Classical Linear Succession and Climax
Progressive Succession to Shifting Mosaic Steady State
Patch Dynamics: Out of Line and Out of Balance
A "Unified Oldfield Theory": Successional Causes
Feature Article 5: "Invasive" Plants and the Unified Oldfield Theory
Succession Design: Using the Four Models
Summary: The Simultaneity of the Four Models
Box 6-1: The Principle of Allocation
Box 6-2: The Law of Vegetation Dynamics
Box 6-3: The Law of Dynamic Tolerance
Case Study 3: E.F. Schumacher Forest Garden
Conclusion: Elements, Dynamics, and Desired Conditions
Appendix 1: Forest Gardening's "Top 100" Species
Appendix 2: Plant Hardiness Zone Maps
Appendix 3: Publications and Organizations