Sorry if this is a silly newbie question but what is the difference between a food forest and tree guilds? I have been watching Edible Acres tree guild series on youtbe. And his tree guilds seem to me like little mini food forests, they have several trees and then multi levels of other plants growing like how I've read food forests are constructed.
So is it just a difference in size or are there specific differences?
“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” Winston Churchill
I'm pretty sure that every food forest could be considered a tree guild, but I'm not sure that every tree guild could be considered a food forest. You could have a guild that's made up of non-edibles. Trees that produce high-quality lumber, mixed with those that produce nitrogen, and another that repels insects for instance.
no expert, but my understanding is a forest covers more area, which is obvious, but one area may get better AM sun, and another may have more moisture, and another the soil may be more acidic … so, in developing a food forest, guilds could be planned specific to different areas of the site that prefer the exact conditions they'll be growing in. 20 or 50 feet away, the soil type could be different, or some other condition could make it almost completely different.
One thing on my site I've been thinking about is there are both large and small hemlock trees. I was thinking of taking them out - and then wondering if the soil around them would be more acidic - and maybe I could get blueberries or something that likes acidic soil growing to the south of them so there would be a little more sunlight on them. I haven't done ph tests on that soil, but all around the rest of the area I did test and it is right around 7 everywhere. So, instead of starting over, thinking of ways to make what is there possibly work with the least intrusive methods - and least amount of work …
I'm my opinion, a tree guild consists of a central tree, with support plants around it. My food forest is being created by making numerous guilds, each with a central tree, and expanding each guild outward until they connect with one another. My guilds are not symmetrically placed and different guilds have varying amounts of support plants around them, so at some point, you can't tell any more where one guild ends and another begins. At that point, I consider it a food forest.
Just a bit thrown in. I think a guild may be healthy but it's still kind of like controlled gardening. The tree guild might be nice and it might do well. It might not.
I'm kind of at the point where part of my food-forest, guild islands, etc, are starting to shift into doing their own thing.
This is year three and I'm noticing that the health of everything is way up. I've heard and read from the professionals that year five is the tipping point but I'm starting to see the synergy in year three.
In my unprofessional opinion, guilds are the building blocks for a food forest. Kind of like Leggos. These guilds are islands that start to connect and make a food forests.
I have guilds close together, some stuff did well and some didn't, nature is now making the decisions in heavily planted areas. If I got hit by a bus, part of my "food-forest" doesn't need my help. These areas would move along and do their thing. Of course, I will manage these areas to get what I want but there is enough age, biodiversity and soil health that the "food forest areas" are self-sustaining. Just my two cents.
Yeah, I think of a "food forest" as a more a growing system with canopy, understory, forest type floor etc. I think of a "tree guild" is more a specific grouping of beneficial plants, more like companion planting.. a specific collection of plants that compliment one another and share space in a particular way. So tree guilds can make up a food forest. But I've also seen food forests with lots of trees and underplantings that don't necessarily make up a preplanned "guild" of grouped neighbors.