Developing Vertically Integrated Edible Bio-systems in a USDA Hardiness Zone 5 Environment

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $6,923.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dave Bishop
PrairiErth Farm

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: sunflower
  • Fruits: apples, berries (brambles), peaches, pears, general tree fruits
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, garlic, onions, radishes (culinary)
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals


  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: youth education
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management
  • Pest Management: biological control, mulches - living
  • Production Systems: permaculture

    Proposal summary:

    This project seeks to enhance the food producing capacity of marginal or underutilized land, and to increase the utility of land currently in production or in use as a conservation practice. Creating a vertically integrated edible bio-system will allow landowners and managers to:
    1. use vertical as well as horizontal space
    2. develop plant guilds that provide natural fertility and pest protection
    3. reduce or eliminate synthetic inputs, and
    4. produce a wide variety of food products marketable in a local foods environment

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Apply the concepts of the food forest system, developed in tropic and arrid regions, to a temperate climate.
    2. Develop a viable food producing system on marginalized land.
    3. Provide a food forest that can sustain human (profit) and wildlife (food and habitat) needs.
    4. Develop a value-added hedgerow containing edibles from trees, brambles, and understory plantings.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.