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The Birth of a Permaculture Food Forest – Before & After Photos

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The before and after photographs in this article were taken at the very beginning when I first finished planting up my urban backyard food forest, and then approximately three to four years later. Each pair of photographs was taken from roughly the same view point, so the same garden beds are visible, to shown the garden’s growth over time.

Just how much of an ecosystem can be created from scratch is astounding. It’s important to point out that what differentiates this setup from a regular garden is that it’s a living ecosystem which maintains its own balance, it’s a food forest with seven distinct layers, tall canopy trees, dwarf trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, vines, groundcover plants and root crops, which emulates the layers of a temperate forest. Every tree and plant has a purpose, is strategically planted in a specific location to maximise the benefits it delivers, and is planted with appropriate companion plants. For such a small-scale intensive permaculture system, there is natural order and careful intentional design in the dense plantings, and there is sound design rationale for the inclusion and location of everything in the food forest.

At the end of these photo pairs, I’ve included some photographs taken from a high vantage point showing most of the garden ten years after its construction. The semi-aerial photography was necessary because the garden is now a lush established small urban backyard forest garden in the literal sense.

Food Forest Garden – Facts & Figures

Yields for First 4 years

Year Fruit Vegetables Berries Total
2008-2009 54 75 2.6 133
2009-2010 128 70 4 204
2010-2011 117 70 7 195
2011-2012 162 61 11 234

There are now three times as much berries, all the trees are productive, and many more trees have been added, both in the ground and in pots, so productivity after tens years will be obviously much higher.

Before and After Photos (3-4 years later)

East facing view of the garden, with fence on right hand side

Southeast view, with grapevine trellis in centre of photograph.

Northwest view of the garden

Southern view from centre of the garden

Southwest view of the garden

South view of western-most side of garden

Western view of garden

Northeast view of garden

North view from side corridor

A Tiny Glimpse of the Produce

Goji berries and babaco (champagne fruit)

Peaches, apples and cherries

Mulberries, grapes, persimmons and pomegranates

Citrus, pepino, figs and plums

Various berries and currants

A List of What’s Growing in the Food Forest

Here is a list of the trees and berries growing in the garden as at the start of 2019, herbs and perennial vegetables, annual vegetables and aquatic edibles aren’t listed here, otherwise it would be a very long list!

  1. Apple, Cox’s Orange Pippin
  2. Apple, Pink Lady
  3. Apple, Red Jonathan
  4. Apple, Royal Gala
  5. Appleberry, native
  6. Apricot, Moorpark
  7. Babaco
  8. Banana, Dwarf Cavendish
  9. Banana, Goldfinger
  10. Banana, Rajapuri
  11. Black Sapote, Tahiti (in pot)
  12. Blackberry, Thornless
  13. Blackberry, Waldo compact (in pot)
  14. Blueberry, Sunshibe Blue (in pot)
  15. Boysenberry
  16. Cherry Guava, Red
  17. Cherry Guava, Yellow
  18. Cherry, Starkrimson
  19. Chilean Guava
  20. Cranberry
  21. Currant, Red
  22. Currant, White
  23. Dragonfruit
  24. Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Ebbing’s silverberry (in pot)
  25. Elderberry, American (in pot)
  26. Elderberry, Black (in pot)
  27. Feijoa
  28. Fig, Dwarf Brown (in pot)
  29. Fig, White Adriatic
  30. Goji Berry
  31. Gooseberry
  32. Grape, Flame Seedless
  33. Grape, Red Globe
  34. Grape, Sultana
  35. Grapefruit
  36. Jaboticaba (in pot)
  37. Jujube, Li
  38. Lemon, Eureka
  39. Lime, Tahitian dwarf
  40. Loganberry
  41. Loganberry, Thornless
  42. Loquat, Champagne dwarf
  43. Mandarin, Imperial dwarf
  44. Mango, Bowens
  45. Marionberry
  46. Midyim berry, native
  47. Mulberry, Black
  48. Mulberry, Black English dwarf (in pot)
  49. Olive, Manzanillo (in pot)
  50. Orange, Valencia dwarf
  51. Orange, Washington Navel dwarf
  52. Pear, Williams
  53. Persimmon, Dai Dai Maru
  54. Persimmon, Nightingale
  55. Plum, Mariposa
  56. Plum, Satsuma
  57. Plum, Sloe (in pot)
  58. Plumcot, Flavour Rouge
  59. Pomegranat, Wonderful (in pot)
  60. Pomegranate
  61. Raspberry, Heritage Everbearer
  62. Raspberry, summer bearing variety
  63. Silvanberry
  64. Tayberry
  65. Wampi, Guy Sam (in pot)
  66. Wax Jambu, red (in pot)
  67. White Sapote, Kampong (in pot)
  68. White Sapote, Wilson
  69. Youngberry
  70. Youngberry, Thornless

The Food Forest Garden Ten Years Later

Due to the density of the foliage in a food forest, pictures are easier to take from above! The tall white round object in the background is a netted tree by the way.

These pictures show close to three quarters of the garden, there’s still more on the far side that wasn’t photographed. The previous photo pairs were taken with fairly primitive digital cameras nearly a decade ago, these pictures were taken with a decent DSLR camera and wide angle lens, lighting wasn’t ideal but it had to do, they give a good impression of how dense the garden is in late summer.

There might be a little room to squeeze a few more things in if we’re lucky!

This is what’s possible in an average urban backyard with a bit of experimentation and a lot of learning and practice, and when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, it isn’t work at all, and that’s how life should be.

Happy growing!

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