Monday, December 16, 2013

24 hours in a food forest

by Sue Girard

This term TAFE Outreach and the Fruit and Nut Tree Network presented not one but two sets of workshops Food Forests at the Katoomba's Organic Community Gardens. 

Over a dozen eager students from the Blue Mountains and just beyond, fronted up to find out what is involved in creating a Food Forest and how you would maintain one right here in this Temperate and Cool Mountainous climate. 

Through the course, students explored how an immature woodland could be the most productive type of forest in providing fruit and nuts for people to consume. Together we looked at what would help trees grow and how to develop an ideal ecosystem to keep them in good health. 

We planted nitrogen fixing seeds as well as longer lasting plants down near the citrus grove, not only to improve soil fertility but also to create a wind break from our late winter winds. We also rejuvenated the understory of herb and ground covers below the heritage apple tree walk in an endeavour to boost the productivity in that area. Intricacies of chill hours and incompatible flowers were just a few of the topics touched upon including pests and pruning. We found juvenile ladybeetles (good guys) and wooly aphids (bad guys) but fortunately no snakes, considering the suitable weather.

The students reported that they loved the interaction with the garden, and the informal – non classroom feel of the learning structure. Several expressed a wish to continue similar courses with TAFE and are hopeful such community engagement with TAFE will continue well after the financial year 2014.

Big thank you to everyone who came along, learning to help develop a food forest, and helping one mountains food forest grow. 

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We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)