The pioneer was the Englishman Mr. Robert Adrian de Jauralde Hart who started working on the concept of food forest in the middle of the 20th century. This technique of sustainable cultivation is also called garden forest, edible forest or vegetable garden.
The food forest is thought of as a sustainable, multi-functional and low maintenance cultivation. Taking the forest ecosystem as a model, the chosen area is cultivated and organized in several layers: herbaceous, shrubby and arboreal. In first place we find the fruit trees, then the edible berry shrubs and finally the perennial and annual plants.
This ecosystem has the ability to generate food, in synergy with wild plants and animals that live in that particular habitat. In fact, the food forest is a sustainable evolution of the traditional vegetable garden which is then transformed into a perennial, stable and above all ‘self-fertile’ cultivation system.
It is a place of experimentation where it is possible to cultivate traditional plants and to venture combinations with unusual plants.
The positive aspects of an edible forest are various, two are the main ones: the harmony that is created between man and nature, the rationalization of resources. Cultivating an edible forest allows us to obtain food for ourselves and the animals that live there, it also allows us to increase biodiversity by creating a special microclimate and producing oxygen, fighting against erosion and optimizing resources such as organic material, water and minerals.
Finally, let’s not forget another positive effect of this practice: the psychophysical benefit. We all know that the contact with nature gives positive sensations and well-being; for this reason, in Italy the food forest has also taken the name of ‘forestasì’.