Koren in her food forest

In the small backyard of my urban Adelaide home, I’m creating a mini forest. An edible one, at that.

This is permaculture food forest-style gardening, in which layers of perennials (plants that live for more than two years) are grown together to create a low-maintenance edible ecosystem.

So far, I’ve planted four fruit trees and plentiful perennial edibles underneath, including asparagus, strawberries, yam daisies and herbs.

And already, just a few months after planting, my mini food forest is looking beautiful and providing for my dinner table daily – while requiring surprisingly little work.

Food forests are also water-hardy, heat-resilient and can be grown in even the smallest of gardens.

To help you create your own, I wrote this story for ABC Everyday, which covers:

  • The seven layers in a traditional food forest, as developed by English horticulturist Robert Hart.
  • How to adapt this theory to be suitable for small urban food forests.
  • How I used a green manure to fertilise and enrich my soil cheaply and organically before planting my food forest.
  • The exact plants I included in my urban food forest.
  • How I stacked the functions of my food forest to make it even more functional.
  • The climate-resilient benefits of food forest gardening.

As our cities become increasingly urbanised, creating vast concrete food deserts, planting a mini food forest is a simple way to grow low-maintenance healthy local food, while cooling and beautifying your own patch.

And the food forest concept works in small urban gardens, tiny courtyards, and even within pots on a balcony. Patch size need not be a barrier to forest gardening.

This story is part of a regular gardening column I write for ABC Everyday, the lifestyle website of Australia’s national broadcaster. You can find my full story archive here.