Food Forest Webinar – Nr.1 – Introduction

From a simple impulse to connect a few people in a conversation, and share some stories of progress in the food forest space in Aotearoa (New Zealand), this webinar idea gained traction rather faster than I expected.

The inaugural Food Forest webinar – from Aotearoa

Webinar 1 speakersWhen I made a post on Facebook page to say there were 35 people signed up for the Webinar, it was at about 7 days to go. To date, there have been 75 people, from all up and down the country who have signed up. Not bad for two weeks lead time.

Even John Valenzuela registered to attend. John is the horticulturist, consultant and educator from Marin County California, best known for his work with rare fruit, home gardening, trees, traditional agriculture, plant propagation, and ethnobotany – I’m hoping we can get him back to present one day. By the time it arrived I had sent notifications to 70 people.

On the day, 43 attendees logged in and saw and heard the presentations from Finn MacKesy, Jon Foote and myself (or parts of them). There were some technical issues, for example some people couldn’t get in if they arrived late. I found out that I had overlooked the limit of attendees for the subscription level I had paid for (more on that later). My apologies. But overall it went quite well - as you'll see from the recording.

We managed two out of the three presentations that were planned. We heard Finn MacKesy speak about what he’s observing with his Auckland Permaculture Workshops hat on and with his current Auckland Council Educator for Sustainability hat on. Finn appropriately reminded us of the non-linear nature of any system and how there are many more aspect to a food forest beyond just growing food.

Then Jon Foote shared some of his images and told the backstory and recent progress at the Glenorchy food forest garden site near Queenstown, which he is overseeing. I particularly enjoyed his stories around the water management on the site, and lessons learnt on that project.

I started with a big picture focus and why we might be seeing a logical upsurge in interest around low energy and sustainable solutions to growing food. To close I offered some stories about the things that are bubbling up in this space in Aotearoa and beyond.

  • Andy’s ”Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land” as an app
  • Council defining policy for “right to occupy” public land for community food forests and community gardens
  • Farmers planning large food forests
  • Food Forest Hui/Training – Sep 26th-28th
  • A food forest & family road trip, Kim, Zuva and I are planning – July 13th-24th

If you want to keep up with the news in this space, the FoodForestNZ Facebook page is one place for staying informed, about events in New Zealand, and all over the world. In different ways and at different scales we are learning how to stack increasing amounts of food into any given area, while restoring land, building soil and sequestering carbon.

So what/who’s up next?

The clear response from the more vocal ones in the chat window, was: “Thank you, that was great, and we want more.”

So I’m making plans for getting the Guytons back on to offer their beautiful images and talk about their well established forest garden – we just need to iron out a couple of technical challenges. I’ve written to ask John Valenzuela and he’s agreed to come on. I’m sure there are lots of you out there, who would love to hear about the work and discoveries he’s been making, and he and Andy Cambeis would probably enjoy some dialogue.

I can imagine a session with a focus on swales and managing water in the landscape, with Jon Foote and Geoff Lawton. I’m sure Geoff would love to hear how his student is advancing after having shared his valuable knowledge in this subject.

I’m working with others on a step-by-step webinar series, which will offer help and information that anyone would need, when establishing a food forest.

Please register your interest if you’d like to be part of these upcoming webinars.

The Video

It is at this point that I want to offer a big shout out to Fredd Marshall who has an interesting project of his own, and yet has jumped into help with and support the Food Forest Hui / Training in (Sept 14-26, in Auckland).

Fredd has plans for a charitable organisation centred around fruit tree planting. The idea is to systematically establish a free food infrastructure in New Zealand’s towns and cities, by nursing and distributing trees to people’s front yards, on the fencelines, so that when the trees are mature they will overhang and be, in part, publicly accessibly.

When we met recently Fredd told me about his education and experience with video editing, so I asked if he would be happy to help edit the webinar recording, and this is what we’ve come up with. I hope you enjoy it, and come back for more.



Food Forest Facts webinar from Food Forest NZ on Vimeo.

Still hungry?

Sign up for the newsletter: Be kept updated whenever a new article is written on – you’ll see an announcement of the next webinar through the articles.

Register your interest in attending future webinars: I have to upgrade the webinar service to a $78usd a month subscription, so I’ll be asking for contributions to pay for the service itself, with some for anyone who wants to organise meetings. Based on an attendance of 40 people paying $10 there is an income for anyone, anywhere who wants to jump in and suggest and facilitate a session. If you have an idea for a Food Forest webinar, and would like to help organise speakers to help me build up a series of wide ranging, practical and interesting food forest or forest garden related presentations, please drop me a note.

Register your interest in attending the Food Forest Hui / Training: If you leave us your name and contact details, we’ll be in touch very soon, with more information.