Friday, May 24, 2013

Want a Healthy Garden? You Can Mimic the Forest Ecosystem

A large percentage of the residents of New Mexico live in a desert  But in the midst of our deserts, particularly the high deserts, there are mountain ranges that rise to high elevations.  And these mountains have dense alpine forests.  These forests, according to author and environmentalist Dave Jacke, can teach us a lot about managing our gardens.

Jacke, the primary author of the books Edible Forest Gardens, is a strong advocate of ecosystem agriculture, which intends to create food-producing habitats that mimic natural ecosystem properties, principles, patterns, and processes.  Here is description:

"Healthy forests maintain, fertilize, and renew themselves by their very nature. Wouldn’t you like an abundant food-producing ecosystem like that growing in your neighborhood or back yard? Edible forest gardens mimic the structure and function of forest ecosystems through all their stages of development and grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizers, ‘farmaceuticals,’ and fun."
A forest-mimic garden allows us to meet our own needs and regenerate healthy ecosystems at the same time. But you don’t need a forest to grow a forest garden—it’s about gardening LIKE the forest, not necessarily gardening IN the forest—you can mimic other ecosystems too, including prairies, meadows, savannahs, and so on. We could call this ecosystem agriculture."

If you're intrigued by this concept, then you're in luck.  Jacke is the featured presenter at a workshop in Santa Fe next weekend entitled Gardening Like the Forest: The Deep Ecology of Ecosystem Agriculture.  The cost of attending a talk by Jacke on Friday, May 31, is only $10.

This talk introduces the vision of forest gardening with some scientific background, a few living examples, and a sampling of useful perennial edibles you can use in your gardens. We’ll dive deeply into forest ecology, drawing implications for both garden design and the design of human social systems that we can apply to neighborhoods everywhere.

If you want to delve deeper into related issues during workshops on Saturday and Sunday, there is a bigger fee (more info. below).

Here is the schedule of events, which will be held at Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave (here is a map)
Friday, May 31  Evening public talk and panel discussion with Dave Jacke
Saturday, June 1: Workshops (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
Sunday, June 2:  Workshops (9:30 am. to 4:30 p.m.)
(The workshops are entitled Local Food Systems, Sustainable Tourism, Regenerative Agriculture, Zero Waste, Aboriginal Living Skills, Permaculture Boot Camp, Women's Gardener, Farmer and Rancher Training, and Gardening Like the Forest).

Admission to the talk on Friday is $10, and the registration fee for the Saturday and Sunday workshops is $175 each.  Click here to register.  A discounted rate of $300 is available for those who want to attend all three days

Dave Jacke has been a student of ecology and design since the 1970s, and has run his own ecological design firm—Dynamics Ecological Design—since 1984 (click here for a PDF of Dave’s resume). Dave is an engaging and passionate teacher of ecological design and permaculture, and a meticulous designer. He has consulted on, designed, built, and planted landscapes, homes, farms, and communities in the many parts of the United States, as well as overseas, but mainly in the Northeast. A cofounder of Land Trust at Gap Mountain in Jaffrey, NH, he homesteaded there for a number of years. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Simon’s Rock College (1980) and a M.A. in Landscape Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design(1984). You may reach Dave by email at:

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