Hello guys, my name is Eli I'm a college student currently working on a homestead in the Blueridge mountains of North GA. I'll attach a photo of the Yurt I'm building so you guys can have an idea, but my question is really about long-term development.
As I attend college in KY (Berea College) I'm not home to really work the land, but I want to begin a process of making it ready for development. The land is very wooded and a large portion of it is sloped. It has a small pond on it fed by a stream. The entire property is wooded and I don't want to remove the forest, however, I'm interested in making the land bountiful. Can you guys point me to literature or forums that deal with permaculture in a pre-existing forest?
My patch of forest is several hours north of yours, so we probably have lots of species overlap. Your land is probably already somewhat bountiful. Here, for example, we showed up to black walnut, elderberry, raspberry that hasn't flowered, spring onion, and various edible greens.
Howdi Eli, welcome to permies! You are in the best forum here for learning about forest gardening. Just spend some time looking at some of the other threads here in the "forest Gardening " forum. Be sure to ask questions too. I have ten acres in a forest in Wyoming and as Shalom has said, I am still finding out what is edible there. You may already have lots of edibles in yours. If you can identify yours , that will help you identify other things that might grow in the same zone and habitat. Don't forget to find the plants and trees that help fix nitrogen and /or are dynamic accumulators. You will want to keep them.
I'd second the ideas of the previous posters in doing some research and observation about what's already growing on the place, both to learn about useful resources for present and future, and to know what's there so you don't destroy something valuable in the course of any changes you might be contemplating making.
That said, you are likely to be facing an uphill battle in creating real productivity in food from a site like this. You might have success tucking in some nut trees and woodland adapted fruits (pawpaw comes first to mind) along edges and clearings (most such plants will need at least a little sun), but it will be some years before these can provide a significant part of your diet. Non-food resources, like firewood, will be in abundance, and you can gather these while at the same time designing for future plantings etc. You might also consider animals in the woods....depending on how large the landholding is and how well it is fenced, poultry, pigs, and goats can potentially gain a large portion of their subsistence from a landscape like this. But keeping them onsite, and keeping them away from plants and areas you want to keep undamaged, will be a challenge.
The fact is that most of our food plants, especially those that produce within a short timeframe, are sun-lovers. For vegetables, grains, legumes, and even most fruit trees, you will need a clearing (or more than one) where direct sun can reach the ground for several hours per day. Creating this in a forested setting is a big project, and in your case terracing the site to hinder erosion might make it even bigger. The question needs to be asked at the outset as to whether this is the best use of the site, or whether other yields or income sources might be better focused on and either garden space or purchased/traded food be better accessed off site. This is more arguably the case on steeply sloping land that will be difficult to work with, and where there is old-growth or any endangered species present. Mollison says in some place "Stay out of the bush"....meaning that the damage we can often end up doing in settling on and producing food from previously undisturbed wilderness is not the best path...
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