Three Dimensional Farming is a system of agriculture/gardening in which trees, shrubs, ground crops, vines, and root crops grow simultaneously, in the same space. The benefits are incredible.
The term "Three Dimensional Forestry" was pioneered by Toyohiko Tagawa, in Japan, as mentionedin Robert Hart's excellent book Forest Gardening. His inspiration was a work he came across while studying at Princeton: Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, by J. Russell Smith.
In such a "forest" system, trees of different heights
grow closer to one another than is ordinarily the practice--more like
a forest, than an orchard. Under the trees grow a variety of shrubs, ground-layer plants, root crops, and vines. The result is anywhere from 5 to 9 layers of producing forest, depending on the heights of the trees. (On the coast of India, where palm trees grow, there are as many as 9 layers. On Hart's farm in England, there are 7 layers.)
One difficulty in finding information on the subject is the wide variety of names it goes under:
Another difficulty lies in finding out which plants will work together in your particular climate. In time, I expect such problems will be addressed. But in the meantime, figure on doing a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting to find out what works in your particular neck of the woods.
Would obviously smell as sweet. Or in this case, an apple by any other name would taste just as good. Whatever you call it, there are major benefits to be gained from a three-dimensional forest garden:
My favorite books:
Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape, by Robert Hart
The best book I've found, to date.
Backyard Orchardist, by Stella Otto
Terrific for getting started.
Particularly inspirational source works, important enough to be mentioned in Hart's early pages:
for Free, by Richard Mabey
Forager's bible. 100 foods to pick and eat.
Plants with a Purpose, by Richard Mabey
Expensive Books for the dedicated:
Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, by J. Russell Smith. (expensive)
The book that started it all.
Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set), by Eric Toensmeier (expensive)
How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and
Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible
on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, by John Jeavons
Have to read this one, but I found it mentioned in a book I respect, and it looks superb.
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association
Ecology Action of the Midpeninsula (Willits,
Henry-Doubleday Research Association
--Has a forest garden that is open to the public
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by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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