Alongside the orchard which I am planning and planting at the moment I am also working on a veritable "Food Forrest" made up of mostly ungrafted fruiting trees, vines, and shrubs.
The back fence and subsequent dirt road of our woodlot here on the farm was filled with many old and decaying trees, young trees which were not of good quality, and a ton of wild black raspberry and multi-flora rose until the recent weeks.
Throughout the months of September/October while my colleagues Michael Lachaume and Tom Wagner (of Tater-Mater seed)over at Homegrown Goodness were in Europe (I was supposed to go, but personal responsibility got in the way) I took the time to clear this land which had once, not long ago even, been an open and fertile field. Only today was the project finished.
I recently moved one of the wood burning stoves from one of the greenhouses into a new small outbuilding behind the house and set it up to heat our house this winter in a bid to save on rising electric bills, as such the wood was needed and the free space this wood cutting provided was much appreciated for a new project.
Amongst the many things I am planning in this food Forrest are persimmon trees (I have collected seed from the very best of the local American varieties available to me including one outstanding variety with fruit nearly 3 inches across!) peaches, apples, crab apples, wild Kazakhstan apples, pears, plums, Asian plums, date plums, blueberries, orange/red/black/pink/purple blackberries, alpine strawberries and a ton of Tim Peters amazing perennial grain varieties including individual breeding plots.
This will be my veritable "Garden of Eden" so to speak. Here I will work for years and years and years keeping everything well organized and selecting for new fruiting varieties, work which sorely is needed in the world of agriculture. Many of the trees will produce nothing of value and will at some point become a point for grafting good cultivars onto or will become firewood, but some will produce quite good fruit and a very few may produce something excellent. All apples and pears can be used for cider and I very well know what to expect from persimmon seeds and berry plants started from cuttings and seeds. If no other purpose this will be prime hunting grounds for supplementing my income and diet in the future.
The Orchard will be close to 4 acres when all of the brush is burned off and will be made up of 6 rows of trees, two "groves" of plums and "persimmons" planted on the wet marginal land, a future pond for fish and irrigation of the farm purposes and the periphery of the project will be marked by brambles. On one side, the east, will be placed the many different cultivars of raspberries and blueberries I have collected. On the west side will be located "Iceberg" and "Snowbank" white blackberries as well as the infamous Lawton. These will be kept in check and kept from spreading by way of the bush hog. The understory of this food forest will be made up of breeding pools of non shattering and shattering perennial wheat, rye, and sorghum which I am working with courtesy of Tim Peters, many selection will be made here of these very important and impressive grains, some of which will in time be introduced to the farming and gardening public. I made it very clear to Tim that he can consider this farm a repository for all of his important work and is welcome to visit any time he wants.
The ground cover in this Edenic wonderland will be made up of various cultivars and hybrids of strawberries, most notably white and yellow alpines.
It's a big project and chances are I'll never see a dollar from it, but the peace of mind that I will have from this area will be worth more than any real "job" could ever pay me.