Forest Gardening finally gets the book it deserves

While food forests (edible gardens or farms designed to model natural forests) have nourished people around the world for thousands of years, in Europe, Australia, and North American (non-Native American) cultures, the concept n ‘really took off in about thirty years. There are.

This means that we are just starting to see the first gardens start to mature. A fascinating new book aims to learn from these early examples and present both the successes and challenges of the early pioneers.

Written by Tomas Remiarz, Forest Gardening in Practice is truly a fine example of what a gardening book can and should be in an age when so much raw information is available at the push of a button. By showing us the inspirations of temperate climate forest gardening, which include the ‘family gardens’ of Kerala, India, as well as traditional English gardening in cottages, Remiarz explains how the concept has developed in parallel in several parts of the world. From the forestry gardening of Robert Hart in the UK to the development of permaculture by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Australia, it seems that many people have stumbled upon similar solutions to the shortcomings of traditional agriculture and horticulture.

I must note at this point that I know Tomas. Having met him about 15 years ago while working strategically reforesting the hills above the Calder Valley in Yorkshire to defend against the coming onslaught of climate change, I know he is at both a deep thinker and a practical actor. It is therefore not surprising that Forest gardening in practice is less concerned with defining terms or establishing standard practice than with recording and analyzing the lessons that have been learned over the 30 years since the inception of the modern forest gardening movement (food forest / permaculture).

In addition to profiles of gardeners and forest gardens – which range from small gardens outside a cottage kitchen to large-scale educational and commercial plantings – Tomas also offers a helpful guide to the ecological principles behind forest gardening, as well as on practical design, implementation and management advice. It even includes suggestions on how to exploit it commercially. The key to the success of the book is for Tomas to keep in mind the needs and wants of the gardener and his environment. And that means defining success by how a garden improves the way of life of those who live there, including its non-human inhabitants.

I also enjoy candid stories of failures or challenges. As a discipline that requires continuity and dedication to truly realize its potential, it is undeniable that many forest gardens have failed to live up to the grand ambitions of their founders. From being overwhelmed by surprisingly high maintenance demands, struggles with land ownership and original gardeners, I remember visiting many less than perfect projects that contradicted the utopian and dizzying promises of the forest garden evangelists. .

In that sense, Tomas’s achievement here is remarkable: he manages to present an inspiring and ambitious picture of what forest gardens can be, and yet he also manages to keep his feet on the ground. It offers a real-life example of how gardeners have crossed the line, or under-managed, or struggled in some other way, and then it gets their take on how they solved or adapted the challenges they faced. confronted each other.

Multilayer agroforestry, including allotment gardens, is a key potential tool in the fight against climate change. So the more of us who start practicing it, the better off we will all be. Forest gardening in practice is about as good an introduction to the topic as I can imagine.