• Friday, April 16th, 2010

Initial earthworks

When taking a broad scale overview on how to start out establishing this miracle of farming sustainability – the Food Forest – those first chosen plants are important considerations.


Young Moringa

Mulberry and Moringa

I started with Moringa and Mulberry as priorities on my list, amongst the usual orchard trees. I have already posted my reasons in earlier posts; the main being food and fodder. The Mulberries pop up here like weeds and are encouraged. The Moringa was carefully and lovingly introduced. I already had some citrus.

Easy steps

I would call my Food Forest more of a backyard design than an extensive open range forest. Richard Hart, when interviewed, suggested that to start a Food Forest you only have need to take Overstory fruit tree species and plant them with the usual required 20 foot distance apart. Then to take more shade tolerant trees and plant them between, with shrubs such as berry bushes snuck in between all these, and level by level work down to ground and root crop level. Climbers and creepers could be placed as best suited too, probably up against the highest trees. This has given him a very successful Food Forest, and greatly aided my understanding of how really simple it all can be.

Personal tweaks

Pathways covering reservoirs

In a backyard design certain little personal tweaks can by used in an attempt to maximize all that the location has to offer. I have a river of water below that I will be using, and so am well on my way to building little reservoirs below my pathways for underground irrigation; a little “tweak” that is expensive in terms of labour and time initially, but will pay off handsomely later with a forest of thirsty plants above. No evaporation of a precious resource when delivered. I want to use a coil pump and ram to get the river water lifted to the Food Forest. This is over and above all other water harvesting techniques I hope to employ.

Rocky land

I also have an abundance of boulders, rocks and stones here. If I was asked what it is that I farmed, I could easily reply: Rocks! They are hard work to harvest but have such multiple uses that the benefits outweigh effort.  And the sifted soil is returned between layers of bio-mass and manure into terraced raised beds for planting.

What do you have in your hand? Use it! I am learning to look at the potential gift in everything. I cart nothing away.

Until next time,

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2 Responses
  1. Hannes says:

    Hello from Hannes ,
    I think that you have an amazing site/blog , full of info, to wich i shall return many a time. I would like to find out from you whether you bought some of the chicken waterers from the Americam site and if you did – do they work here in our country ? i saw a post or question you’ve left on their site and i thought i should ask you about them. If you already got them please let me know if it was very difficult to import or not .
    Im living on a small holding (8.5 hectares) just outside Pietersburg (Polokwane) and im also looking at ways to introduce sustainable small farming conditions on my property (not necessarily for profit) but rather for peace of mind and soul and of course fun. Im looking for indigenous chickens to buy (not readily available around here) so if you have some for sale or know where i can find some please let me know .
    Please feel free to contact me via email or alternatively – my cell no is 071 071 6644 – please send sms – i’ll call back
    thanks , Hannes

    • Chelle says:

      Hi Hannes!

      I have not bought the chicken waterer as yet. I found something that is quite cheap locally that may do the job equally well. If not I probably will then import. It does not look difficult… just a lot more expensive. I have ordered many things from the States successfully so don’t expect any problems with the waterer. I will do a post about it so you and everyone can see what I will be trying first…

      I think your plans for introducing sustainable small farming conditions is excellent. Some weird things shaping with prices and what is done to our food these days.

      I have located a source for day old and pullets of indigenous chickens but until I have my chicken mandalas built I will not be buying… too many serious predators will decimate the flock as before. Too heart-breaking…

      This link is a good site to check out the different breeds: …. there is a price-list at the bottom of their page …. most day olds are either R3.50 or R5.80 …. and pullets under R10 [4 weeks old] ….. I hope prices are still the same because I see it is dated 2004 …. but it is still on their website.

      And here is where you can buy eggs … their details:
      ARC – Animal Improvement Institute
      Private Bag X2, IRENE, Republic of South Africa, 0062
      Enquiries: Mr. Nedambale
      Telephone: +27 (0) 12 672-9239/8
      Fax: +27 (0) 12 672-9159

      Are you ready to get chickens? Do you have predators? I would love to know your experience….

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