Starting a Farm from Scratch: Part 1
by Chris Grataski
When left alone, most eastern landscapes grow into forests. This tendency is at odds with the prevailing approach to food production in the world today, which is set on overcoming the land’s inclination toward forests, favoring instead the development of food systems based entirely on annual plants. While there’s nothing wrong with growing annual vegetables, such an approach often relies on the perpetual disturbance of soil and, when practiced conventionally, forecloses upon the land’s ability to maintain fertility, conserve water, and resist disease.
This class will introduce a different approach to food production that explores the possibility of growing food and medicine in accordance with the patterns and inclinations of the landscape, rather than against them. Participants will learn the fundamentals of forest ecology and explore the strategy and practice of designing food systems that mimic the intelligence and biodiversity of woodlands. Participants will be exposed to key perennial plants useful for food and medicine, will learn how to plan for and participate in forest succession, and will be introduced to an array of tactics for cultivating high-biodiversity ecosystems that produce what Dave Jacke has famously referred to as the seven “F’s”—Food, fuel, fiber, fertilizer, fodder, farmaceuticals, and fun.
Content will include:
- Forest ecology and landscape analysis
- Polyculture design
- Best practices for tree planting
- Medicine-driven garden design
- Working with fungal allies
- Plant community dynamics & design
- Soil fertility for orchards & forest gardens
- Woody plant propagation
- Using compost teas & other foliar sprays
- Forest garden design process
- Questions of scale in forest mimicry and the limits of designed ecologies
Online registrations are preferred, but registration by mail is accepted. Either proceed online above, or mail in the forms below with a check for the deposit.