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Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems Paperback – August 5, 2014
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"Integrated Forest Gardening is an evolution from Bill Mollison’s original teachings, built upon by countless designs and a straightforward process. Both the seasoned and new designer can use this work to confidently approach a project, weaving land, client, and vision into an abundant and joyful reality.”--Javan K. Bernakevitch, Educator and Agroecology Designer
"Weiseman, Halsey, and Ruddock define integrated forest gardening as the 'integration of all aspects of a land base into the development of healthy food, medicinal, and utility landscapes,' giving equal importance to the built environment, the waste stream, animals, plants, and stones. Drawing on their extensive design, consultation, and teaching experience, these three Midwestern permaculturalists discuss plant guilds ('a beneficial grouping of plants that support one another in all their many functions') and their design, optimal species integration, and plant propagation; profile four trees, which are the centerpieces of polycultures; outline the process of implementing a forest-garden design; and detail fifteen plant-guild case studies across hardiness zones 3–9, illustrated with helpful anecdotes. This passionate and practical manual gives landscapers, landscape architects, and householders enough in-depth information and methodology to begin their own experiments with an emerging, ecologically sensitive alternative to conventional horticulture.”
"Reading Integrated Forest Gardening was like taking a walk through a well-orchestrated whole systems design! As a plant enthusiast and systems thinker this book spoke my language. It is rare to find in one book such depth of user-friendly detail. It demystifies the mythical nature of the “Forest Garden’’ and brings its strategies to easy application. This book is a must for all plant lovers."--Jude Hobbs, Cascadia Permaculture
"Integrated Forest Gardening fills a major gap in the canon of permaculture books, giving us, at last, a detailed guide to guild and polyculture design. No longer is this subject mysterious and daunting; in this book we now have specific instructions for designing and installing multi-species plant groups. Chapter 7, which describes 15 guilds and their plant members, is a golden nugget worth the price of the book alone. This is an essential book for all food foresters and ecological designers."--Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
"This rich feast of nature love by three experienced and working permaculture designers pushes into the hard task of creating recombinant ecosystems, a field where few have gone before. The authors expose the logic and lore of working guilds, the symbiotic plant assemblies of productive landscapes. Full of design insight into the needs and opportunities of both plants and the people who live with them, Integrated Forest Gardening offers a panoply of example guilds, work procedures, and luscious images to inspire and guide the perennial food gardener onto a path of ecological renewal.”--Peter Bane, author of The Permaculture Handbook and publisher of Permaculture Activist magazine
"For the design work we do at Midwest Permaculture, when we need experienced advice on planting systems we turn to the three gentlemen who collaborated on this impressive work. The book is thorough, accessible, and timely. So wish we had this insightful compilation when we first started. It’s a gem!"--Bill and Becky Wilson, Midwest Permaculture
“This is an intimate insight into the world of plant guilds. The authors have taken the broad land based overview and zoom the reader into the micro detail of these plant polycultures. Details of root structure, seeding patterns, and relationships with the surrounding environment have been carefully observed and are well laid out in the plant guild lists. This book is an important contribution to every permaculture designer’s library and will appeal to all those wishing to grow sustainable polycultures whether broadscale or in the garden.”--Ben Law, author The Woodland Way and Roundwood Timber Framing
"We stand at a new threshold. The history of food production has tended ever more narrowly towards monoculture, whereas a sustainable future can only be based on polyculture. But we're desperately short of knowledge on polycultures. While mainstream research still chases the chimera of fossil-fueled monoculture, a small band of visionaries is working to develop the knowledge we need to carry us forward to the future. Just such are the authors of this book and the wisdom it contains is part of that movement."--Patrick Whitefield, permaculture teacher and author of The Earth Care Manual
“Integrated Forest Gardening makes the process of creating complex agroecosystems more understandable and achievable. It is a fine guide to designing forest garden and polycultural systems using Permaculture principles.”--Martin Crawford, author of Creating a Forest Garden
About the Author
Wayne Weiseman is certified by the Permaculture Institute of Australia and the Worldwide Permaculture Network as an instructor of the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. He is the director of Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture (KAAP) in Fountain City, Wisconsin, the Permaculture Project LLC, and the Permaculture Design-Build Collaborative LLC, full-service, international consulting and educational businesses promoting the ideas of eco-agriculture, renewable energy resources, and eco-construction methods. For many years he managed a land-based, self-reliant community project combining organic crop/food production, ecologically built shelters, renewable energy, and appropriate technologies.
Daniel Halsey, Author/Designer/ Illustrator is a certified permaculture designer and teacher for multiple academic institutions and organizations. Daniel is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science degree in Temperate Climate Polyculture Design and a Masters of Professional Studies in Horticulture. His design work in agro-ecosystems and edible forest gardens began with an introduction to polyculture design in 2003. He is the director of the Permaculture Research Institute/USA. Dan developed the design process used in the book for use in his design business and travels nationally, hired to design, instruct, and consult for planning of intentional communities, agro-ecosystems, and broad-acre restoration.
Dan and Ginny live on a twenty-five acre wetland savannah called SouthWoods, in Prior Lake, where they manage self-sustaining forest gardens of fruiting trees, shrubs and nut crops. SouthWoods incorporates permaculture principals in all aspects of living.
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Top customer reviews
Much of the content is background on the basic considerations for planning plantings (e.g., studying one’s biome, observation, insect and animal interactions, layers of a food forest). Eventually, it goes on to profile specific plants (e.g., oak trees, comfrey) from a permaculture perspective, but in a seemingly random and often anecdotal way. The polyculture case studies at the end lack context (“Why would a professional or hobbyist plant this regime?”) and don’t go into detail about the interactions between specific plants.
The book does present a structure and an approach to planning polycultures, but I wouldn’t buy the book for that.
The book’s prose is solid — not all authors do that well, and so I appreciate it. But topics can vary widely from one paragraph to the next. Sections vary greatly in length and detail (11 pages on oaks, followed by two pages on pines, with only a brief aside on pines’ acidifying effect on soil), seemingly depending on the authors’ knowledge of a topic.
Having read many permaculture books recently, it’s hard to see where this book fits and who it’s for. For example, Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Designer’s Manual is too technical and theoretical for the casual reader, and so one can turn to Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden for specific guidance on applying permaculture principles to a home garden. I tried to read Integrated Forest Gardening before I took my permaculture design course and found it too theoretical, and when I tried to read it after my PDC I found it redundant.
Also, it wasn’t an issue for me since I live in the U.S., but it’s very helpful to be explicit about what biome, region, and country the author is writing from as well as about. While the theory of plant guilds may work the same in temperate zones, the tropics, or deserts, I would imagine readers on other continents would be frustrated by not being familiar with the plants profiled in the book.
I don’t wish to slam the authors, but I do hope to give some feedback in hopes of improving dialog for the sake of helping people learn this vital information. There are some exceptional permaculturalists in the world, many of whom have been compelled to write books because…I don’t know…that’s what the others are doing? There are recreational/inspirational books, there are reference books, there are design/systems manuals…Integrated Forest Gardening is a little bit of all these things, but not enough so in any one category that I’ll keep it on my bookshelf. Fingers crossed for the second edition!
Creating a forest garden by Crawford was a much better use of my cash....
It is an excellent summary of both basic permaculture principles and forest gardening, while still managing to include practical specifics on actual planting/guild exemplars. Forest gardening in temperate zones is becoming a hot topic and coincidentally there are growing numbers of blogs, books, and e-courses about them, but most tend to speak in over-arching and basic terms. While this did contain a good bit of basic ecological/permaculture background material, it was well written and included specific and interesting tid-bits peppered throughout.
Of particular interest to me are the 15 plant guild examples at the end of the book, something that seems to be lacking in a lot of literature provided by the same people who are offering up their services as consultants. I wish the authors had provided some more real-life photographic evidence of those guilds in action to go along with the planting diagrams, but it still is more than most provide (*hint to any aspiring forest gardening/permaculture design authors out there; we like pictures and drawings!).
All in all, I enjoyed reading it and will likely return to it for inspiration and ideas.