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Integrated Forest Gardening

Food Forest and Forest Garden Planning, Design and Development

Authors Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, and Bryce Ruddock have created the first, and most comprehensive, book about plant guilds, covering in detail both what guilds are and how to design and construct them, complete with extensive color photography and design illustrations. While other permaculture books address this topic of guilds, none provides enough depth to be replicable in a serious way.

The guild concept often used is one of a “functional relationship” between plants. In other words, it is the integration of species that creates a balanced, healthy, and thriving ecosystem. But it goes beyond integration. A guild is a metaphor for all walks of life, most importantly, a group of people working together to craft works of balance, beauty, and utility.

Wayne Weiseman, co-author of “Integrated Forest Gardening” teaches a three-day practicum based on the process found in his book. Here is a short outline for the practicum:

  • This book is the first, and most comprehensive, guide about plant guilds ever written, and covers in detail both what guilds are and how to design and construct them, complete with extensive color photography and design illustrations. Included is information on:
    What we can observe about natural plant guilds in the wild and the importance of observation

  • Detailed research on the structure of plant guilds
  • Animal interactions with plant guilds
  • Steps to guild design, construction, and dynamics, from assessment to design to implementation
  • Fifteen detailed plant guilds, five each from the three authors based on their unique perspectives
  • Guild project management: budgets, implementation, management, and maintenance.

Practicum Outline

  • Introduction
  • Permaculture Principles, Methodologies, Applications
  • Definition of a Guild
  • Structure of a Plant Guild: like following a checklist as you design: Grid to Vertical
  • Partitioning Resources
  • Ecological Requirements of Guilds
  • Niche Requirement Exercise
  • The Plant: what is a plant? Why is it so important as the basis of all life as a primary producer?
  • Propagation (use some how-to diagrams)
  • Using observations of natural and native plants for keys to plant species and families usable (genus as substitute for high yielding species from all over the world- Mollison’s dictum about natives first, then…)
  • Plants from the perspective of Biodynamics, alchemy, etc.
  • Portrait of an Oak Tree: A Guild unto Itself
  • Functions of Plant Guilds
  • Animal Interactions with Plant Guilds: increases ecological diversity, species and genetics, vertical and horizontal layers and zoning, structural diversity, niche inhabitation, temporal and spatial integrity
  • Steps to Guild Design: How to construct a guild!!!  Properties of natural ecosystems and guild design: production for yield, diversity, resilience, output stability, flexibility, autonomy, sustainability: Looking at traditional and indigenous people’s cropping systems and sustenance and why this is a great template to work out of: what can we do to create healthy guilds- design diversity, increase biotic diversity, improve abiotic conditions, manage for quality (transitioning from the typical lawn environment and the monocrop, Walmart dimension- so where do we begin the process?)- how do we select for plants: zone, climate, what is local, what lies within the climate biome belt that goes around the globe
  • Guild Project Management: Budgets, Implementation, Management and
  • Maintenance (all of life is maintenance and management): management brings stability to the system-interactions with human beings
  • Fifteen Plant Guilds