Food Forest in a box

Andy's FF in a window sill

Have you ever wondered how many plants you might need for a food forest? Well take a look at this, and you’ll get a good feeling for the numbers.

Andy Cambeis is spending some time on Waiheke and we got together on the weekend to go over the wording of his “Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land“. We did this because of a couple of bright young women – a publisher and a graphic designer – who are working to turn this into an app for iPhone and iPad, and which I hope we’ll get a preview of at the Food Forest Hui at the end of September.

While I was there Andy kindly allowed me to shoot this video which shows the volume of plants he is raising in a window sill in the house where he’s staying. While he has a few more canopy trees than would be included in a 700SqM ‘pod’, and there are no climbers represented, this is the essence of the plants needed for a temperate food forest pod.

On the video you’ll hear us talking about the strategy, which is core to Andy’s approach, of taking the time to remove all grasses from your food forest site, and establishing a thorough and complete ground cover matrix. Once this ground cover is in place all the other plants can be put in at once – the herb, shrub, tree and canopy layer plants – without the risk of them being crowded out by grasses.

Here is the list of plants which he’s raising in the trays you see in this video.

Chinese Musk Mallow (Abelmoschus moschatus) – 100% sprouting rate. Available
Five-leaf Akebia (Akebia quinata)
Three-leaf Akebia (Akebia trifoliata)
Siberian Peashrub (Caragana arborescens) Available
Jap. Bush Quince (Chaenomeles japonica)
Russian Giant Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – just one…and it germinated! This is the world’s largest Sunflower. It grows true from seed and has a 1 metre diameter flower head on a 2 metre stalk. On sale in a few months
Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus x laetiflorus)
Bush Clover (Lespedeza bicolor)
Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera)
Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
Cherry Plum ‘Maurice Denton’ – Thank you Maurice,  for this and other gems.
Himalayan Rhubarb (Rheum australe)
Chinese Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum)
Chinese Mahogany (Toona sinensis) A red Chinese food variety and a green one. Available
Nepal Pepper (Zanthoxylum alatum)
Szechuan Pepper (Zanthoxylum schinifolium)
Wild strawberry and wild blueberry

Andy is one of the many permaculture designers who will present at the Food Forest Hui in September. Andy will focus on the grass eradication approach as well as the need for appropriate governance structures for any food forest, to ensure its longevity. You may also like to quizz him at the event about the extraordinary diversity of plants he has sourced and is propagating for further distribution through

New Zealand’s first Food Forest Hui

Thursday September 26th – Saturday 28th, 2013
Onepoto Domain, Northcote – Auckland

Eventbrite - Food Forest Hui