Renewing Northeast Home Forest Gardens

We live at a time where there is widespread disturbance all around us. The ground is open and waiting for seeds. We can bemoan the tragedies that nature has endured or we can cast seeds and plant a future. We can and do influence the ecosystems around us more than any other species. That influence can come through reckless destruction, blind abandonment, or conscious intent.

– Akiva Silver, Excerpt from Preface to Trees of Power

Imagine suburban homes in good repair with lush gardens and neighbors well-known to each other. Heated comfortably with renewable energy, including coppices of trees and living fences which provide firewood, food for both wild and domestic animals including humans, along with numerous ecosystem services such as soil production, water and temperature regulation, pollution mitigation, and more.

Imagine rural landscapes which provide for themselves and broader communities, while regenerating the very sources of those provisions: tree crops which become more fruitful and productive over time; farms that grow more fertile as their surpluses are cultivated; buildings which shelter stewards of the very materials they’re made of.

A practitioner and professor of ecological restoration, S.D., helped teach me the value of imagination. Imagination and love guide us toward healthier ecosystems, and these guiding acts are a unique gift humans can offer. The work of restoration is lead by Nature and brought about by many creatures, and imagination and love can catalyze that transformation toward better ways and better days, toward regenerative landscapes and lifestyles.

Imagination is a useful tool in design, and design is an essential tool to permaculture. In this evolving posting, you can find my imagination applied to aid permaculture design: below is a work-in-progress planting pallet for retrofitting regenerative harmony back into suburban and rural homes of the northeast U.S.A.


Plant Pallets

One persons growing allies, actual and intended. Where some primary uses are listed, the focus is on ‘provisioning ecosystem services’, but many co-benefits are recognized for all plant peoples.

Succession Stage 1 – Leafy and Herbal Pioneers

Sun-loving pioneer plants work well to fill in open areas with net primary production, rapidly producing leafs and capturing solar energy as chemical energy. These short-lived fast-growers can be out-competed by taller, longer-lasting species. Accordingly, to survive, pioneer species rely on wildlife to spread their offspring to other advantageous clearings. For humans, this often means berries and other tasty foods.

Annuals

  • Corn (staple food)
  • Squash (staple food)
  • Beans (staple food)
  • Potatoes (staple food)
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Hardy leafy greens like swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers (a variety can be used as a sponge!)

Herbs

  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Chamomile
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Comfrey

Succession Stage 2 – Herbaceous Perennials and Pioneer Trees

Small bushes

  • Raspberries (gold-cap, red)
  • Blackberries (be careful to avoid very thorny & rugged varieties)
  • Elderberry (easy to propagate)
  • Black currant
  • Gooseberry

Perennial Ground Guild & Other Herbaceous

  • Strawberries & Asparagus
  • Mullein

Succession Stage 3 – Young Forest

Medium bushes and small trees

  • Hazelnuts (fats, fuel, fiber)
  • Poplar (fiber)
  • Willow (living hedge, diverse functions)
  • Sea berry (good source of vitamin C)
  • Serviceberry (pioneer tree)
  • Mulberry (pollard annually for fuel and fodder)
  • Candleberry
  • Locusts (pollard annually for N-fixation, mulch, fodder, fiber)
  • And many more…

Also see Permies.com forum discussions:

Succession Stage 4 – Mixed-Age Forest

Tall trees

  • Chestnut
  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Butternut

Tree Crop Processing

What do you think?