Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. More >>>

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Food Forests

Plants For A Future has its roots in permaculture design, where a key principle is that every element must have more than one function. In our view, a planting scheme designed for carbon sequestration should also meet other needs, especially for food. In the design for a Food Forest (Forest Garden or Woodland Garden) useful perennial plants are chosen to occupy the height layers found in a natural forest.

The origins of PFAF 30 years ago was in a research experiment at a site in Cornwall, UK, so when we embarked on the ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ project there were already thousands of species suitable for inclusion in temperate climate food forests in the PFAF database. The community which gathered around to support the original site all those years ago was made up from committed vegans, and food forests managed vegan-organically and strictly independent of livestock lend themselves to providing for vegans and others adopting primarily plants-based diets. When we looked at the species recommended in books on food forests and forest gardening by Dave Jacke and Martin Crawford, we found they were already present on our database.

Plants to Save the Planet

Plants For A Future (PFAF) started the project we now call ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ (PSP) three years ago. We realised that the plants information and search facilities we provide could be part of a global movement to shift public focus from issues concerning people and animals onto recognising the power and importance of plants. Since we started PSP we have extended our database of 8000 useful plants, adding around 700 species suitable for tropical situations. We have also introduced search terms, ‘glossary items’, to enable designers to identify plants which are most suitable for designs with the following aims: Carbon Sequestration, Carbon Farming and Food Forests.

Forest Gardening & Food Forests

When comparing a large cultivated field to natural woodland the woodland receives no intervention but produces lush growth and diversity of plants and animals. Yet the cultivated land supports very few species. The quality and depth of soil in a woodland is maintained and improved yearly whilst erosion and loss of soil structure plague the cultivated field.

Forest or Woodland?

For the title of this page we opted for ‘Woodland Gardening’ rather than ‘Forest Gardening’ although the two are interchangeable if you are researching information on this type of edible system. (In Britain woodland is normally considered to be a low-density forest including some open spaces with plenty of sunlight and limited shade that may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants. A forest can be viewed as having a higher density of trees with a largely closed canopy, provide extensive and nearly continuous shade.) A woodland garden can be any size and designed even for a small backyard. Literature on forest gardening also allows for smaller scale systems and is not limited to a closed canopy, as the term ‘forest’ may imply.

  1. Woodland Gardening Plants
  2. The Woodland Edge Garden exploring the productive edge of a woodland and similar habitats
  3. Pioneer Species discusses trees good for establishing a woodland.
  4. The Garden of Love describes a visit to Robert Hart's Forest Garden which inspired the whole PFAF concept. (Nederlands )

 

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