Question, has anyone set up a forest garden with the express purpose of production of ferment able sugars?
Specifically, are there any premies out there that have taken the idea of a food forest and tweaked the species list to take advantage of a value added product like fine wine, cider, beer, mead, or something new?
I am a wine buyer and rookie wine and beer maker, and I have always been disappointed with the "sustainable" vineyards I see on my trips to wine country. For all the marketing they put into it I still only see mono cropping and business as usual.
It seems to me that this could be a niche that would allow some form of financial support while promoting permaculture. People are more open to new ideas when they got a drink or two in them anyway...
I will be starting work on my new property this fall and spring and would love some hair brained ideas. Some of the plants I'm thinking of.
Sea buckthorns (I can almost taste the buckthorn mead now)
Like the fermentable forest idea. I was hoping to do blueberry wine this year but the weather played havoc with the harvest and the berries are truly sparse. An hours picking in one of the best area's I've ever seen other years yielded barely 2 cups of berries.
Bad harvests from one varietal of fruit/sugar are what I'm hoping to design away from. The vineyards I've been to have all there eggs in one basket so to speak. Even if they are growing grapes organically they have to make sure that they get a harvest.
If we were able to design a Fermentation style around what sugar the forest produce, instead of saying wine is the best and fitting nature to massive production of grape sugar (we could say the same for massive grain fields and beer/ whiskey). We would have a much more stable system of producing a economic viable product, that people are intensely passionate about.
Wine geeks talk about wine changing from year to year all the time, imagine the vintage differences that could be talked about if one year the blueberries failed, but the goose berries had a bumper year!
It would make the organic, biodynamic production of wine/beer look like a marketing campaign.
I sometimes call my endeavor the booze garden. I don't tend to plant anything that is only useful once fermented, but I've found that a great many things work much better in alcohol than one might expect.
most recent was lovage/blood orange bitters. most popular was naturally fermented cider. met with the most skepticism was raw goat milk and honey mead, which has gotten much better over the years. working on honey ginger ale tonight, with some other treats bubbling away here and there.
I was considering using some galangal in a brew, so I'm very pleased to hear Geoff mention it.
Around these parts orchards were often grown for the specific purpose of making cider. If you've read Michael Pollan's "Botany of Desire" he talks about Johnny Appleseed actually propogating appletrees for cider production. I think that's pretty interesting.
"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Sorry to play devils advocate here but why do you want a fermentation theme? I have been under the impression most foods could be fermented. So wouldn't fermentation come along with any excess food production, along with canning and dehydrating?
Or is this more a marketing angle for a vineyard type tour groups? Or maybe this is the way that is interesting for you to get a value added product to a market?
Again not trying to judge your idea just curious for the motivation.
*A mate of mine made some bullace wine a few years ago. As he was working at a wine merchants he took a bottle in for one of their tasting sessions and conducted a blind test for the sake of comparison to conventional grape wines... Turns out everyone preferred the bullace wine.
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
My apple trees are not large enough to fruit yet, but I do get local apples to ferment apple cider vinegar. I'm waiting for my Hewe's Crab to grow enough crabapples to mix into an old-fashioned cider with a few other varieties added. Most hard ciders today are not what they made 200 years ago.
Almost fruits other than grapes need added sugar to ferment into wines, and that's a drawback for me.
Wit is bullace? Look like its time to fire up google...
Darius, the plan is to use honey for those fruits that need some sugar added, but you only need to add sugar if you believe that "wine" must be a certain alcohol%.
Michael, quick answer do what you know. I'm a wine buyer and fairly talented home brewer.
Longer answer, I think that setting up a permaculture system is a goal unto itself, but if I can plan a way out of wage slavery while still doing what I love, sign me up! Plus in the longer run if things do go to hell, well I'd have one heck of a trade good.
So I bit the bullet and bought 75 grape vine for the north side of my food forest. The plan is to ramp up the height of the plants as I continue to the south.
What I am wondering is if anyone has some ideas for companion plant that would allow the grapes to be the canopy (approx. hight 6ft). Keep I mind I plan to dry farm the grapes, so any companion plant will need to handle prolonged drought. After the first year anyway.
So far the list I have is,
Dwarf pea shrub
And all the weeds I have on site and wouldn't be able to get rid of any way
I am happy to see one more permaculture guy with love to wine and other bewerages
Last year 2012 i made by myself only with use of my manual work more than 400 liters of wine, so maybe i will give some experiences with chosing of appropriate wine fruits.
As i am now sick of grape wine (i really drink a lot of it this winter) theres really better fruits to do some wine.
I dont like French propaganda that the best wine should be from grapes. For me it is wrong story guys.
The best wines which i prefered and checked till now are wine from aronia (aronia melanocarpa),cherries (not sweet cherries) and rosa canina / rosa rugosa. Good and strong wine you can make from plums as well from blackberry. Another stuff what you can use with good result is a raspberry then mix of redcurrants and goosberry (sour and sweet) and mix of pears and apples as i checked they taste good.
Theres of course more stuff good for wine like dandelion and so on but they need lot of time to collect resource, so i am neglecting this stuff in wine making.
Here where i live is more than 51' north of geographical height and still theres really good amount of sugars inside the fruits, even sometimes i leaving them to freeze to transform sugars into simple ones to make taste better.
This year i tried to make wine with elderberry but with rather bad result the wine is really sour (not beacuse of lack of sugar), but nothing will be gone, i will try to make some booze from
Just give yourself some time, be slow and patient, experience, check few times, make notes, try, drink, as we say in Poland "fast? you can only catch the flies!".
All the best.
We grow the following for eating fresh, baking, jamming, but also to use in various combinations for making melomels and wine:
black currants and Jostaberry
Red, pink, and white currants
Elder for flowers and berries
Blueberries (high and low bush)
Cape gooseberry (an annual in our climate)
Granted, we are in Portland, OR and have a climate ideal for berry crops.
We also have kiwis and persimmons and table grapes and dessert apples and quince, but haven't tried to ferment any.
If we had more than 1/4 acre, I would add salmon berries, wine grapes, sour cherries.
We also glean a tremendous amount of Himalayan blackberries every year and they make a fantastic melomel.
Update, I've gotten most of my large trees and shrubs in and growing.
Now I'm working on the herb/ root layer while I'm feeding the chicks and taking care of some pretty aggressive weeds.
Here are a few pics of the progression.
The first pic has a prepared seed bed in the front,ready to be seeded and mulched
In the middle the chicks have been moved onto a new weedy patch and are happily scratching about
In the background you can see a patch that has been cleared/ seeded and has about 3 1/2 weeks of growth on it.
The second pic is just a close up of the finished patch.
At thet current rate of clearing and reseeding I'm guessing I'll have the whole food forest herb layer cleared and replanted with useful self seeding/perennial by next fall.
Don't count your weasels before they've popped. And now for a mulberry bush related tiny ad: