Developing Vertically Integrated Edible Bio-systems in a USDA Hardiness Zone 5 Environment
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 by:
1. Using vertical as well as horizontal space
2. Developing plant guilds that provide natural fertility and pest protection
3. Reducing or eliminating synthetic inputs, and
4. Producing a wide variety of food products marketable in a local foods environment
Of the $3,647.00 received in the first payment, $2,615 has been paid out.
Intern labor — $1100.00
Seed and nursery stock — $1,017.05
Equipment and irrigation supplies — $498.60
All land costs, machine costs for soil prep, and my labor is in-kind contribution. See attached log of work activities for 2013.
The first thing we learned is that there is tremendous interest in this concept, both from beginning farmers and from the general public. In addition to the groups listed who visited the project, many individuals and families “dropped by” for a visit.
One interesting thing that occurred during a tour illustrated the hoped for outcome of the project. A group was observing aphids that had concentrated on a Rutabaga plant and were eating holes in the leaves. As they watched, several Lacewings suddenly appeared and began eating the aphids. This prompted an examination of available habitat for beneficial, and ideas for increasing that habitat both within the project area and in the surrounding fields.
I like the idea that this has become kind of a community project. Several visitors have returned for a second look and to offer plant materials from their homes or farms.
As the overstory matures, we expect to have significantly more results available by the end of 2014.
WORK PLAN FOR 2013
Hired new project manager, Liz Pegg, for 2014. Liz is a student at ISU, graduating in May with a Masters degree in Agriculture and entering ISU’s PhD program. She plans to focus on agroecology/sustainable agriculture.
2014 will focus on selecting and evaluating plant guilds for fertility and pest protection, as well as tracking economic benefits. Special emphasis will be on attracting beneficial insects and pollinators, and monitoring disease and pest damage. No toxic sprays are used, so this information is considered critical to both the agronomic and economic success of the concept.
Plants of selected species, and monitoring of systems and economic performance will be the predominant activities for 2014.
Both formal and informal tours and workshops were conducted for a wide variety of groups interested in this project. Highlights were:
5/17/13 and 4/21/14 – 21 High School students from Olympia HS (Liz Kirby, Food and Nutrition class)
5/22/13 and 9/11/13 – 39 ISU students (Dr. Matt Himley, Living in the Environment Class) toured the project, looking at alternatives to the industrial food system and at sustainability.
6/11/13 – Spoke to Sunrise Rotary in Bloomington about using “Food Forest” techniques in designing backyard edible landscaping. 34 attending
9/6/13 – Grand Prairie Master Naturalist Class (University of Illinois Extension) Permaculture techniques, emphasis on pollinators and farming’s impact on wildlife. 24 attending
9/25/13 – Red Hat Tour – general interest in the community about the project, emphasis on backyard edible gardening. 6 ladies
9/16/13 – MOSES tour – part of a whole farm tour. Emphasis her on pollinators, ,using vertical layering to increase sustainability and increase income per acre on marginal lands and conservation practices. 51 visitors
1/24/14 – Presentation to the Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference, Ames, IA, includes a discussion of the Food Forest Project as part of PrairiErth Farm’s sustainability plan, and on utilizing marginal lands. 90 in session
2/21/14 – Presentation at the Indiana Small Farms Conference, Danville, IN, also included a discussion of the Food Forest Project as part of PrairiErth Farm’s sustainability plan, on utilizing marginal lands, and techniques for beginning farmers needing to maximize income per acre. 32 in session
2/24/14 – Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop (Dr. Kushad, U of I crop science and Extension) 15 in attendance
3/4/14 ISU Horticulture Class (Dr. Kopsell) 21 students, emphasis on permaculture techniques and general farm sustainability issues.
3/15/14 – Presentation on the Food Forest Project at Lincoln College for Russel Allan Garden Day, sponsored by the Logan County Master Gardeners and U of I Extension, 30 in attendance
3/21/14 High School students from Olympia HS (Liz Kirby, Food and Nutrition class) 26
- Food Forest Project Log of Work Activities 2013, FNC13-930
- Food Forest Handout for Visitors, FNC13-930
- East End Food Forest – current plantings
- Middle East of Food Forest – current plantings
- Middle West Food Forest – current plantings
- West End Food Forest – current plantings
- Middle Food Forest – current plantings
- 5/28 Food Forest Observations
- Purpose of Plants in Food Forest for 2013 & 2014