Florida Food Forest (DTube & Photos Galore!) | The Future of Food for Humanity! What is a Food Forest? Answered!

in homesteading •  6 months ago

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Today we had the opportunity to visit the FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) Food Forest!!

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We had heard about this from a friend of ours who is creating a Food Forest in Hawaii. First, this food forest is 5 minutes from the highway and there were signs when you entered the University Campus directing one to the food forest- how cool is that?!!?

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Earlier in the day, we spent time at ECHO and we were a little tired from a day spent on our feet (will post about that too!), but, when we entered the food forest, our spirits and bodies instantly picked up from all of the inspiration!!

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I took a lot of photos, but we also decided to make a video, to give you a "feel" of the food forest, talk about some of the guilds (plant groupings) that we saw, and talk about what a food forest is!

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Enjoy the video:


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Of course, this entire time in Florida, we've been going wild at all of the fruit that is growing. It truly baffles us that everyone isn't growing all of these amazing fruits!

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Food forests are where it's at! They create self-sustaining ecosystems that mimic forest growth patterns. This means less work for the grower, higher yields and healthy soils that build up over time. Part of our mission @mountainjewel is to EDUCATE the world on food forests and encourage many to start them, no matter the size, wherever they live. We're creating a food forest and it's a lot of work up front that diminishes over time as yields increase!

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Let's take a walk together through the Food Forest to give you a feel of what was going on here!

Layers of a Food Forest

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Canopy

In this demonstration site, Mulberry was one of the species in the canopy (along with Moringa, Papaya, Avocado, Mango, etc).

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Papaya as the Canopy

This layer is filled with the largest and often longest lived species and often takes the longest to fill out. The Mulberries created a lot of shade.

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These Mulberries were very happy & productive.

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Functions of the Canopy

A canopy serves as the "climax" species, referring to ecological succession from disturbance to pioneer and finally climax. This means the "climax" period is the most complex phase of succession, although the process is not linear. The canopy is the uppermost layer and acts as the major solar collectors transforming sunlight into food and biomass while providing shade and habitat. Because of the larger size, the canopy plays a large role in water and nutrient distribution throughout the system. The canopy therefore improves soil and creates microclimates underneath.

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Moringa Flower

Midlevel

This layer is comprised of shorter or dwarf trees. This serves similar functions as the canopy and bridges the gap from canopy to shrub layer. In this food forest example gauva and papaya fill this niche.

Here, it was encouraging to see that they were grafting (in this case, a guava).

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Here is a underripe guava fruit:

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There is a lot of potential in the Midlevel. Here we get some filtered sun so shade tolerant plants can be grown, and if on the edge of the forest, you can grow basically any plant that tolerates full to partial sun.

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Here is an Atemoya (relative of Cherimoya and paw paw):

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Loquat

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Understory or Shrub Layer

We weren't familiar with many of the plants in this forest. The shrub layer is often phased out or transitioned to other species and the low trees and canopy mature. These species are often short lived and fill the niche in time from early establishment mid succession.

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Herb Layer

The herb layer consists of herbaceous or woody plants that are between the ground cover and shrubs. Here there were banana and certain type of aster flowers. The herbs can offer food nectar and/or habitat for beneficial insects.

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A relative of taro in the herb layer:

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Here is a pineapple in the herb layer.

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Hibiscus

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As well as cactus

Ground Layer

Mulch! Very important aspect of Food Forestry is mulching the ground. This helps regulate temperatures, retain moisture, increase biodiversity, among other things. Some plants are used as "chop and drop" plants that you can cut and leave on the ground to accumulate matter. This keeps weeds down and slowly builds soil over time. If you use nitrogen-fixing plants, they also charge the soil with nitrogen and, if you chop and drop them, you get all of those accumulated nutrients building your soil above ground!

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Mulched soil as as a result of chop and drop.

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We were so encouraged to walk through this Food Forest today! The students at FGCU have done a fantastic job and are examples to the rest of us! We hope many will catch the drift of the Food Forest concept & start their own!

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Herb Spiral

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This post was written by a passenger on the #ecotrain, a gathering of Steemians who write about eco-conscious topics. Search the tag often for more inspiring content!

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I am getting really interested in this food forest idea, and you guys are doing a great job educating people about it. Don't know how many of those fruits would grow where we are but it will be fun finding out!

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thank you so much @talltuk... we really believe the future of humanity depends on these types of small scale things repeated on a large scale all over!! perhaps these fruits wont grow, but i assure you: if you start digging into it- you'll be surprised at all the awesome ones that will :D <3

Me encanta! es un sueño para todo aquella persona que le gusta la permacultura, agroecologia y la naturaleza!

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que bueno! seria una mejor mundo si todo los gentes actualiza los technicas de permacutura! paso a paso adelantamos.

Hello mountainjewel!

Congratulations! This post has been randomly Resteemed! For a chance to get more of your content resteemed join the Steem Engine Team

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thank you so much!

Very interesting to see the plant architecture staged from canopy to earth's surface. Smart way to maximize your space while at the same time optimizing conditions needed for plant living in the layers below. Beautiful pictures!

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thanks ma! <3

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All I can say is Wow!
This is paradise. Imagine all those fruits at your grasp.

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yes! i agree. we're totally blown away by all of the fruits here... so so good! <3

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I can almost see myself making different mix of juices from those fruits lol!

My little garden is kind of mini food forest lol. I also use Moringa and mulberry trees to create shades to protect the plants during the harsh summer. Plants are currently in containers allowing move them from season to season and optimise the arrangement.

The food forest here is amazing. I wish I had a land that size haha.

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I could see that from your photos that you are interplanting well and having things at many different layers. You’re doing very well with the space you do have! Yes this place is very inspiring!! 🌿🌍💚

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In spring, I set up this garden bed for the Okras and added some variety of moneywort as ground cover. Around the bed, I used some old tomatoe treillis as I wanted to experiment with using Malabar spinach and Ivy Gourd vine to add some shade for the new Okra seedlings. A volunteer rockmelon (cantaloupe) popped inside and I let it grow.

In the end it worked nicely, with some little maintenance to keep the vine from bothering the Okra plants too much.

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Awesome! Looks great. Love your interplanting and successional methods 😊 you’ve got a true gardener’s touch for sure!

Love all the colorful photos and the detailed explanation! I can certainly see how creating a good forest would be a LOT of work up front, (the planning alone, oh my!) but once you got it well established, you'd be happily cruising along enjoying the harvest. The flowers being interspersed in it are a lovely bonus...food forests are pretty too, not just functional! :)

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thank you @mtnmeadowmomma! <3 exactly so much work up front, but all done for the ease of your future self and for so much abundance to enjoy & share!! i agree, beauty is valid unto itself!! ;) that's always my first thought too, and then pollinators <3

Food Forests everywhere!!!
I had no idea all these fruits, which I have only ever seen growing on islands and South-East Asian countries, could grow in Florida.
What an awesome idea :)

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yesssss! what a blessing to visit!! florida makes me jealous, but there's so much we can grow too! fruit is so wonderful! :D

With great power, comes great responsibility.

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True, and the power of knowledge is great.

excellent, good that place, thanks for that post!

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thank you! yes it is a fantastic place showcasing human evolution and creativity in relation with plants <3

Amazing post bro, super amount of value here!

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Thanks this post was written by a woman! 😂🌞

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Wow, this place looks so great and delicious! I think the most spirit lifting experience in my world is to experience such beautiful abundance like this, smell the trees and feel the life!!

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yes !! so great and delicious! i agree. .. the life force was flowing wonderfully here; a great place of inspiration :D

That's so neat! I don't know of anything like that in our area, I'll have to check it out. Now you've made me really want to go eat some fresh fruit...

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where are you located? surprisingly food forests are catching on in many places- perhaps not at universities, but maybe someone near you! lol i know the fresh fruit is so good!!! <3

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I'm just outside of Atlanta. We do have lots of farms in the state with plenty that do U-pick for berries, apples, peaches, etc. But I can't recall hearing about anything quite like this! To be fair, I am usually a bit of a homebody when I get home from work, so a lot of things get by me. 😉

Excellent tour! How exciting to see a mature food forest in person :) I imagine you were in pure bliss!

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thank you! yes! it was sooo awesome to be in the presence of all this growth... so inspiring and fulfilling. definitely encouraged us to keep going!!! <3

Looks like you guys are having a fun trip. I would love to see this food forest in person!

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yes, it's been a great time. definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, or just to come down for that ;) <3 thanks for stopping by!

This is great. Up vote and resteemed. I just wished it was in FL closer to me since it is still a good distance. Very nice.

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thank you so much for the upvote and resteem. it's definitely worth the distance if you're in the area <3!

This is an awesome place and you gave us an excellent tour and explanation. There are many wonderful ideas presented here. I can't wait to take some of them and put them to use here on my homestead.

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aw thank you @cecicastor!! we were so touched by all of the abundance and wonderful diversity--- it's our mission to share it!! soooo happy to hear you left inspired and ready to implement. major YESSS!

really beautiful ..we have olive trees and make oil in sicily. best regards