Curly Community Garden

Food forest

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).

The proposed forest will be about 150m2 and be comprised of taller trees in the back and smaller trees in the front, with multiple layers of undergrowth - including native bush tucker plants. 

There are many benefits of having a Food Forest at the garden. These include:

1. Visual - The Food Forest will be 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 will create some much needed shade - for plants and people working in the garden.

3. Produce - As an edible forest, it will provide organically grown produce that, once the forest is 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 will be 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. 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, will attract many native and beneficial insects and small animals, which will serve as natural pest deterrents, increase overall harvests and create a balanced forest of biodiversity. The food forest will have its own ecosystem with the plants providing the soil with the necessary nutrients.

7. Educational - The food forest with include signs with information about the various plants - including a wide variety of native Australian plants.

This is the original design for the Food Forest. A few modifications have been made to the plan and the forest is still a work in progress.