A food forest is a form of regenerative farming, a designed ecosystem modelled on nature, with the aim of growing food and sequestering carbon at the same time. As a forest it will consist of plants which occupy different layers, typically a canopy layer, shrub layer, herb layer and climbers. All plants will be perennials in order for the soil to be wild, undisturbed and regenerating. All plants will be food producing, will sequester carbon in their woody parts or in the soil, and will have useful functions in the forest ecosystem.
The choice of what to grow in a food forest is challenging. It is not simply a matter of deciding what would be good to eat, and planting the corresponding food plants in beds alongside rows or patches of woodland. Most books about food forests, woodland gardening or carbon farming concentrate on the design principles involved. The focus of this book is the plants, their characteristics and personalities, what they have to offer a food forest ecosystem, as well as what kinds of foods they yield.
We have selected over 500 plants that provide a mix of different growing conditions, plant size and structure, type of food, and contribution to a food forest ecosystem. There is also a quick-reference table of the key characteristics. The featured plants are arranged in sections corresponding to Forest Layer: Shrubs, Groundcover Shrubs, Trees, Herbaceous Plants, Herbaceous Groundcover Plants, Running Bamboos, Bulbs, Climbers. Further details of all the plants described here are available from the PFAF Plants Database, which can be accessed free of charge at pfaf.org