Notes to broadcasters
A forest garden is also known as a multistorey garden or a home garden. When describing a forest garden to listeners try to use names of crops that commonly grow in a layered format in your region. Also, we recommend that this script is used in combination with script 4 in this package, “The supermarket garden.”
The following describes a typical forest garden in the Comores Islands and may be useful as a guide when you are discussing local systems. (Reprinted from Trees and multistorey agriculture in Africa): “The top storey consists of tall trees — ficus, sycamore, mango, breadfruit and mature coconut palm, between 10 and 20 metres high. The highest of the midway storeys are dominated by cycad, citrus, pawpaw and clove (trees with branches between 7 and 10 metres high). Another slightly lower storey consists of banana, coffee, jatropha, vanilla. Some of these plants serve as props for various creepers including pepper and climbing varieties of yam and betel. Seasonal plants form the bottom storey: taro, pineapple, cassava, yam, maize, sugar cane and some shade-tolerant species.”
What do a supermarket and a forest garden have in common?
They both provide plenty of food.
And they both have “shelves”.
When I talk about shelves I mean the many layers of trees, shrubs, vines, and other crops that grow in the forest garden.
What are the benefits of the forest garden?
The food from the forest garden is fresh and nutritious.
But there’s another even more important benefit.
Has there ever been a time when you had no food and no money?
The forest garden provides you with food in emergencies.
It will provide you with food when you don’t have money to shop at the market.
If you want to grow a forest garden, try to imitate a real forest.
Grow crops of different heights.
And plant trees that give fruits at different times of the year.
It will take some time and effort to establish a forest garden — you won’t see the benefits until several years later.
Just like a natural forest, the forest garden has several different layers of plants.
The top layer of the forest garden is the canopy of tall trees.
Trees protect the soil from the hot sun.
Tree roots bring nutrients from the deep soil up to the surface where they can be used by other crops.
Falling leaves add nutrients back to the soil.
Underneath the trees, in a home garden, there is another layer of shorter trees and then shrubs and vines below them.
For example, cacao and coffee grow well in the shade of coconut palms and mangoes.
Vanilla needs shade for proper growth.
Under and beside the shrubs and vines, on the bottom layer of the garden, there are crops such as taro, pineapple, cassava and sugar cane.
Each layer of the garden is like a shelf.
And you can pick fresh, nutritious food from each shelf when necessary.
When you plant many crops together, you are less likely to lose money.
If one crop does not produce a good harvest, another probably will produce a good harvest.
Because of the mixture of species and the different fruiting times in a forest garden, there is always something ready to harvest.
The shelves of the forest garden provide food and income all year.
“Farming in three stories,” by Yona Friedman, in Land – Manuals for Sample, 1983. Communication Centre of Scientific Knowledge for Self-Reliance, 33 Bd Garibaldi, 75015, Paris. Tel: (331)783-20-24.
Trees and multistorey agriculture in Africa: a textbook for agro-forestry, Hugues Dupriez and Philippe De Leener, 1998. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Postbus 380, 6700 AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands.