Curly Community Garden
In August 2017, Curly Community Garden was thrilled to receive a Stronger Communities Fund grant from the Northern Beaches Council to build a Food Forest at the garden.
Food Forests are mini ecosystems comprised of up to 7 layers of different edible species. Every plant within the food forest enhances other plants' production in varying ways. The seven layers are canopy (large fruit and nut trees), low tree layer (dwarf fruit trees), shrub layer (currants and berries), herbaceous layer, rhizosphere (root crops), soil surface (ground cover crops) and vertical layer (climbers, vines). The plants in food forests are carefully selected to provide delicious food for humans, while creating a mini ecosystem that requires little maintenance and functions independently, where different plants support each other (for example, nitrogen fixing beans are vines that might use sunflower plants as a structure to grow on).
Our Food Forest is about 150m2 and is comprised of over 60 varieties of plants including trees, shrubs, vines and multiple layers of undergrowth. It also includes native bush tucker plants.
There are many benefits of having a Food Forest at the garden. These include:
1. Visual - The Food Forest is a "Secret Garden", adding beauty and ambience where people can enjoy nature.
2. Shade - The site has excessive sun exposure, with the existing hedge providing little shade. The Food Forest creates some much needed shade - for plants and people working in the garden.
3. Produce - As an edible forest, it provides organically grown produce that, once the forest is even more established, will require limited maintenance, since the forest will be practically self-sufficient. This means more yield with less overall effort.
4. Noise and Pollution Barrier - The forest is situated along the northern side of the garden, parallel to Abbott Road. The taller trees in the forest will help to block the noise and pollution coming from the street.
5. Wind Break - The garden is in a very exposed location, with the existing hedge providing little protection from the wind. Once the trees are more developed, the forest will provide a wind break from north and north easterly winds.
6. Environmental - The forest ecosystem, especially since native species will be included, attracts many native and beneficial insects and small animals, which serve as natural pest deterrents, increase overall harvests and create a balanced forest of biodiversity. The food forest has its own ecosystem with the plants providing the soil with the necessary nutrients.
7. Educational - The food forest includes signs with the names of the plants - including a wide variety of native Australian plants.
Below is the original design for the Food Forest. A few modifications have been made to the plan and some annual plants will continue tochange with the seasons.