Let’s Talk About Food Forest Layers

in homesteading •  2 months ago 

Have you heard about food forest layers? What do you know about these layers? The traditional model included 7 layers that were supposed to mimic the structure of a natural forest. But of course natural forests are often not that simple.

Various people have added layers to the traditional 7 but the non-living layers of the forest have often been ignored.

This week’s blog post - Food Forest Layers and Why They are Important – covers the 7 traditional layers of a food forest but also dives into 4 non-living layers that are equally important to creating a healthy and abundant forest.

The 4 non-living layers covered in this post are:

  1. Standing dead woods (snags)
  2. Large logs
  3. Fallen branches and limbs
  4. Large rocks

Food Forest Layers for Each Type of Food Forest

This post is part 3 in a 4 part series all about food forests. The previous post in this series went over the different types of food forests. Each type of food forest will have a different balance of layers—both living and non-living layers.

The different types of food forests covered in the previous post were:

  1. Oak savanna
  2. Recovering forest
  3. Mature forest

For example the oak savanna type of food forest is going to have far less large woody debris and snags than a mature forest type of food forest.

But all types of food forests will have at least some elements from each of the 7 traditional layers and the 4 non-living layers.

It is just the amount from each layer that varies between the different types of food forests.

Why This all Matters

Often food forests are described in a kinda 1 size fits all manner, but natural forests are far more varied and different regions have very different types of forests. I think each food forest will be better off if it is designed to match the structure of the native forests found in your area.

But this still gives you options since most areas have different types of forests and you can choose to mimic a natural forest in your area post a disturbance event like a fire or mimic a mature natural forest.

The 4 non-living layers in this week’s post add to the complexity of your food forest and will provide habitat for all sorts of beneficial critters, create beneficial micro-climates, and support beneficial fungi.

Of course there could easily be more layers added that would add more complexity to our food forests. But at some point you just have to call it good enough.

What do you think? How do you use layers in your food forest designs?

Thank you!


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The 4 non-living layers covered in this post

They may be none living layers in themselves, but they are home to colonies of the living.

I'm working on my front garden in the hopes of creating a miniature food forest. I don't think I'm going to be able to include that many layers, but I'm terracing with rocks so I've got one of the none living layers covered. I'll have to keep the others in mind as I go. Of the living layers I think the tallest canopy will have to be missed out and start with the small trees.

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Very true which is a big reason why I include those layers in my designs! Your miniature food forest sounds great and I would love to see pictures and hear more about it as it moves forward! Posts about it would likely do well in the contest too ;)

You've been visited by @minismallholding from Homesteaders Co-op.

Just dropping by to let you know I've highlighted this great post in the Homesteading - Natural Living newsletter.


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Awesome thank you!