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An introduction to food forestry from Wikipedia:
Robert Hart pioneered a system based on the observation that the natural forest can be divided into distinct levels. He used intercropping to develop an existing small orchard of apples and pears into an edible polyculture landscape consisting of the following layers:
- ‘Canopy layer’ consisting of the original mature fruit trees.
- ‘Low-tree layer’ of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
- ‘Shrub layer’ of fruit bushes such as currants and berries.
- ‘Herbaceous layer’ of perennial vegetables and herbs.
- ‘Rhizosphere’ or ‘underground’ dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
- ‘Ground cover layer’ of edible plants that spread horizontally.
- ‘Vertical layer’ of vines and climbers.
A key component of the seven-layer system was the plants he selected. Most of the traditional vegetable crops grown today, such as carrots, are sun-loving plants not well selected for the more shady forest garden system. Hart favoured shade-tolerant perennial vegetables.
There is a rapidly expanding wave of permaculture endeavors. We will have more on this going forward.