How to Start a Suburban Food Forest

In the last 3 years, my husband and I have planted 30 fruit bearing trees on our 1/3 acre property.  Next year we are planning on experimenting with installing two permaculture trios.

I first heard about permaculture trios by following biologist and educator Stefan Sobkowiak on YouTube.  According to Sobkowiak, the best way to start a food forest is to establish 2 trios and propagate your mature trio over time to establish new trios on your property.  He makes this recommendation because the initial investment is reasonable for average households.  Also, in establishing your first 2 trios you will learn everything you need to know about your skill set, what grows well in your region, and your land without risking loss of time and investment.

What is a Trio?

Each trio is made up of:

*  2 fruit or nut bearing trees

*  1 nitrogen fixing tree (a tree capable of sequestering nitrogen from the air into the soil)

*  9 fruit bearing shrubs (3 per tree)

*  30 perennial plants (10 per tree)

In a trio the trees will be planted per the nursery’s recommended spacing.  In between the trees, the shrubs and perennials are companion planted around the tree’s base.  This creates a biodiverse ‘forest’ that is capable of retaining water due to the living mulch of the perennial plant layer.  The nitrogen fixing tree ensures natural fertilization of the the soil, without the use of chemicals or soil amendments.

The result is a self-promoting living system that produces food year-after-year, with minimal inputs.  And as the trios matures you can propagate the trees and plants to establish more trios for your property!

Fruits and nut trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Chestnuts

*  Hazelnuts (filberts)

*  Pecans

*  Walnuts

*  Apples

*  Apricots

*  Cherries

* Nectarines

*  Peaches

*  Pears

*  Plums

Nitrogen fixer trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Bladder Senna

*  Japanese Pagoda

*  Silk tree mimosa

Fruit bearing shrubs that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Blackberry

*  Blueberry

*  Boysenberry

*  Currants

*  Elderberry

*  Goji Berry

*  Gooseberry

*  Gumi Berry

*  Mulberry

*  Raspberry

*  Sea Buckhorn

Edible/Medicinal perennial plants that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Basil

*  Chives

*  Claytonia (Miners Lettuce)

*  Chicory

*  Egyptian walking onions

*  Garlic Chive

*  Ginger

*  Good King Henry

*  Lavender

*  Lemon Balm

*  Mint

*  Oregano

*  Parsley

*  Ramps (Wild Leeks)

*  Rosemary

*  Rhubarb

*  Sylvetta Arugula

*  Sage

*  Scarlet Runner Beans

*  Sea Kale

*  Shallots

*  Sorrel

* Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

* Sweet Potato

* Tree Collards

* Thyme

*  Yams

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