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The Food Forest Handbook
Design and Manage a Home-Scale Perennial Polyculture Garden
A food forest is a productive landscape developed around a mix of trees and perennials. Rooted in permaculture principles, this integrated approach to gardening incorporates a variety of plants such as fruit and nut trees, shrubs, vines, and perennial herbs and vegetables. Food forests can help increase biodiversity, protect valuable habitat for beneficial insects, and promote food security and resilience, all while providing an abundant harvest.
The Food Forest Handbook is a practical manual for the design and management of a home-scale perennial polyculture garden. Simple, straightforward instructions guide the reader through:
- Getting started — site assessment and planning
- Tending the forest garden — maintaining soil health, succession planning, mulching, pruning and more
- The fruits of your labor — crop profiles, harvest, storage, nutrition and recipes.
This timely book makes the concept of food forests accessible to everyone. Focusing on the potential of perennial polyculture to enhance local food systems, The Food Forest Handbook shows the reader how to mix and match plants in unique combinations to establish bountiful landscapes and create genuine self-reliance in years to come.
Darrell Frey is the owner and manager of Three Sisters Farm, a 5-acre permaculture farm, solar greenhouse and market garden located in Western Pennsylvania. He facilitates workshops and delivers keynote presentations on permaculture design, perennial polyculture management and ecological land use planning, and has been a sustainable community development consultant and permaculture teacher for 30 years. Darrell writes extensively about the principles involved in regenerative, organic agriculture and is the author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm.
Michelle Czolba is co-owner of Pittsburgh Permaculture and co-founded the Hazelwood Food Forest. She has extensive experience in the design and maintenance of perennial polyculture. Her formal training includes biology, chemistry, and herbalism, and she has earned a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a M.Sc. in Sustainable Systems. After obtaining her Herbal Certification Michelle founded Wildly Natural Skin Care, and developed her own full line of handmade, wildcrafted and organic skin care products.
"Sorting out the particulars of a Food Forest can be tricky, overwhelming and seemingly complex. But Darrell Frey's and Michelle Czolba's Book, The Food Forest Handbook changes all that! Through this in-depth practical book you will learn the strategies for effective planning, design, establishment and management of perennial polycultures. I found it fascinating how this design system has been utilized through the ages in many cultures to current times with a tour of successful food forests in varying climates. I recommend this book to all those who are bringing diversity to their planting schemes."
Jude Hobbs, Permaculture land-use consultant, designer, and educator, Cascadia Permaculture
"Frey and Czolba share the valuable fruit of their decades of experience with this carbon-friendly gardening form. But they go beyond this to tour sites around the world to reap insight and inspiration. They also do a better job than any food forestry book I've seen of reminding us of the tropical origins of this form of multi-strata agroforestry."
Eric Toensmeier, author, The Carbon Farming Solution
"Michelle Czolba's and Darrell Frey's decades of hands-on experience in permaculture and food production has allowed them to create a unique, important, and timely book. The authors have condensed two lifetimes of experience into a beautifully presented and essential volume. The Food Forest Handbook is an outstanding work that should be in the libraries of urban planners, designers, gardeners, property owners, naturalists, and even survivalists". Save the Earth" isn't just a slogan; this book shows the reader how to make it a practice."
Joseph Jenkins, author, The Humanure Handbook, The Slate Roof Bible, and Balance Point
"Darrell Frey and Michelle Czolba have recovered this truth from ancient wisdom: forests are successional recyclers. What happens if we were to drop the boundary between the built environment and nature? Wouldn't we all be much better off? The Food Forest Handbook guides our first steps along that path."
Albert Bates, author, The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide, The Biochar Solution, and The Paris Agreement