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In the Autumn 2011 newsletter we asked you to send your stories about what they're doing and how PFAF has helped you. Thank you to all the people to wrote back to us. If you would like a your story to be included here please write to us at [email protected].


I'm ES,

Permaculture fanatic and passionate edible landscape gardener at a care farm over here:
I discovered the PFAF database many years ago and use(d) it many many times to find plants and their properties and after that actually introducing them into my garden.

It is almost some kind of plant bible to me and the newest version is even greater due to the wonderful photos.

This a small photo of my "Field" here in the Netherlands with lot's of edible perennials. Ken and everybody who has helped you through the years thank you for giving this great info to the world.



Dear "friends", ??Nearly thirty years ago, I just started a database on edible plants of the world, as a geologist, I had to travel and work in many remote sites of the earth.?Having at that time not found any support, I had to handle my hobby alone.??In 2001 I did find support with L'Harmattan in Paris, a book editor who accepted to publish my database in 2 volumes. At that time I had collected information on about 8000 species referring to many hundreds of authors.??I continued this work and some years ago discovered your site and the fantastic job you performed and are still improving.
At the moment, I am completing my database with all the info you offered on your site. The amount of original species I am handling now is about 11000. It is quite higher than your DB. This is more likely due to references to countries not well covered by you.?



My daughter found your website, I saw her post on Facebook. I am an herbalist and RN, the first for over a decade, the second for more than three. Having been exposed/educated/supported by the allopathic medical community for this long, I soon learned that there are alternative methods for dealing with many of life's annoying problems and studied herbal simples with Jennifer Tucker at Mt.Nittany School of Holistic Health in State College PA.( it no longer exists)

I am constantly observing, learning and finding new sources of information to keep me and my clients healthy and happy. I currently make herbal salves (strictly medicinal, nothing cosmetic) utilizing all food grade materials and fresh or dried herbs. I grow some of my herbs at home, but am the resident herbalist at Starwind Farm near Pennsdale PA, a CSA operated by Ruth Steck and LuAnn Potter. They grow many more of what I utilized as well as offer the opportunity to do a bit of wildcrafting on the side. Otherwise I tend to order organic dried herbs from herbalcom.com in Iowa.  I also infuse herbal vinegars and will launch a small line of herbal teas to be offered for sale at a new shop near my home. (the proprietress is a friend of mine).

I also treat my own asthma and allergies with various herbal potions, elecampane tincture and lobelia tincture chief among them; additionally I make Holy Basil tincture and St. John's Wort Oil as I have suffered all my life with restless leg syndrome. I am just thrilled to find your website and have only just begun to delve into your lovely databases. Thank you so much for your existence.

Muncy PA


Hi, I've been using PFAF since I took my first permaculture design certificate course (in the US); your website was listed as a resource - and boy is it ever!!  I started researching, browsing, playing, learning with your website about three years ago - before the advent of plant photos.  Once I get on, I usually get interested in some offshoot from my original question and can spend hours poking around, learning new stuff.

I am debating with myself now over how important 'native' is - even what does it mean, when so many of our (US especially?) food, medicine, and landscaping plants originated somewhere else, thousands of years ago, spread, and now we perceive them as native because they've been here so long.  (apples, elderberry, dandelion, and many others)

Anyway, thanks ENORMOUSLY for what you do and have done!  Your offering is precious!!


Hi fellow healing plant enthusiasts??Yes, your website is absolutely the best I've found. I used it quite extensively in my research for my forthcoming "book" -- its really a book with a set of plant cards for the medicinal and poisonous plants of the Tri-county area of Central coast California -- San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. It will be called Tri County Medicinal Plant Cards. I have photographed all the plants, and might possibly be able to help you with photos. Do you have a list of the ones you need? Also, I have medicinal information on plants that are not in your database as yet. Once I get this published and on the market I'd be willing to share information with you so that the information will be perpetuated.??I teach a weekly course entitled "Edible and Medicinal Plants" through Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education Division. Every week, on Friday or Saturday mornings, I take a group of people on the local trails and teach them the plants and their uses. So far I've taught about 500 people. Lots of people in our local area are very interested in this topic, and I've referred them all to your website. You're doing a great job. Thanks so much.


I love Plants For A Future, and have been using the site for years. Thank you for including me on your newsletter.  It has been a long time since I received one, so I wanted to make sure I'm still on the mailing list.  (If there is a non-HTML/text-only option, I would prefer that if possible.)

I began using Plants For A Future when I was trying to learn more about edible and medicinal plants to help develop an eco-village I live in.  We have a permaculture focus, and PFAF provides many great ideas for things that might thrive here and be useful at the same time.  

For about half a year, I was running a "plant of the day" service (inspired by "word-of-the-day") where I sent information to my friends and neighbors that I mostly excerpted from PFAF.  I don't know if it's practical to create such a service from your current database, but I know that people were enjoying it and it would be need if I could tell my friends to sign up for a service directly from you.


We (PFAF) recently talked to Richard, from the Pyrenees,  who says he finds the PFAF web-site 'utterly invaluable'.

He has a small-holding two and a half thousand feet up, where the winters are very cold, and the summers very hot, and has gradually been shifting from annual to perennial crops over the last couple of years.

As he buys more perennials, the PFAF database is his first port of call for every plant, and he finds it the best source of information of any.

This year he is planting more Amelanchiers as his children love the berries, as well as the blue sausage bean plant, and more persimmons, mulberries and other fruit.
Last year he had the best yield ever from his annual crops too, since he is developing more permaculture techniques of extensive mulching, little digging and much less watering.

A cheering story for all who are turning to permaculture and perennial growing!

Wendy Stayte [Trustee]



I've been watching these years another wind-blown forest garden maze behind old Port Natal. Here spruce and fir are confined to higher land, the vegetation runs strongly to the sub-tropical, and the soils to moderate acidity (pH 6), which allows for some systematic comparisons. You will find me much more ecological in perspective, but that's useful in evaluation and planning.

The site here is marked up on an old colonial map for "ship's timber," and the first thing I noticed is how well wood weathers here. Indeed, I've seen it settle onto the path to petrification, and felt a real benefit to my health in what is called "re-mineralization." This seems to me related to the sea-mist, Latin "ross marie," whence names like Rossburgh (here), Rosscommon,  and the famous Rosslyn near Edinburgh.

This process of course inhibits the contribution of woodfall to the soil, and its contribution of tannins and other alkaloids, striking a rather acid balance. But "taking the gap" in ecological terms I noticed the Wild Fig, which roots in the merest crack in rock or masonry, breaks easily, and rots fast with the merest black mould, yielding rich chestnut-brown soil.

With the acid tone comes a distinctive "miasma" in the old homeopathic sense (the Law of Similars from antiquity), marked by yeast spores, one of which ferments bread and was much appreciated in ancient Egypt. This is the context of your observations about chives, hung by the bed, against chalmyda, particularly! And endless onions hanging in French kitchens. Wild garlic grows here, protective of other low-growing herbs.

Botanizing these, I was surprised to find wild lettuces, but then realized that they come from an early branch of the flowering pants, adapted to acidic soils, with the cashew nut, citrus fruits and frankinsence. Citrus is, of course, mainstay of the Spanish Latifundia estates, but in the higher, cooler interior, spruce dominates, in ecologies comparable to your more northern but low-lying situation.

Here it is the macadamia nuts that thrive, berries and wild tomatoes. Placed with your report, this suggests rather strongly a focus on nuts, berries and lettuce-family leafy vegetables. This is a an underdeveloped area of botany, and your findings could propagate fairly easily to underdeveloped areas of Spain! Oxford University is your historical link.

Two other themes from your report are familiar to me. Poor, wasted, marginal soils are ironically appreciated by herbalists, for the hardy species that take to them have in their vigour and resilience "potencies" of medical interest. I notice that two of your pioneering trees were medicinals. There is a trade-off, of course, between this value and the pursuit of forest gardening.

Lastly, I appreciate your frank recognition that plants have been remembered for yielding oils, dyes, paints and materials. Here the Medieval manor bought a ready market and labour for thinning, on which front you are awkwardly set against the tide of history. Or turned back to the natural balance struck by wildlife?



Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More



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