In March and April 2019 we hosted a one month
food forest course, where participants learn how to plan, design, implement and maintain a food forest. During this month our food forests where expanded and upgraded the food forests. Please check out what we got up to.
Digging a swale
Digging a sunken bed, a triangular bed that is sunken into the ground and filled with compost, this will hold more water and stay cooler in the summer. here we have various herbs nitrogen fixing sennas, a cherry tree, chaste tree and watermelons
Our new tomato bed! Thank you WIll for leading this project, Manu for the pond, the Moors for the major earthworks and everyone else that helped with clearing the brambles, fixing the stone grape trellis and putting up the tomato trellis. We are trying to work out what the moors were doing and how they moved water down our land, this is our 2nd small test. #ancientagriculture
designing the food forest
daily harvest of fresh food
New polyculture planted in the chicken food forest (an area for chickens to be rotated through to provide sustainble eggs and automatic weeding and fertilizing while offsetting carbon and providing food for guests). With a Holm Oak, Neem (nitrogen fixer) and Persimmon as the long term trees, shorter lived peach and cherry planted in between. An elderberry and SIberian Pea Shrub as additional soil builders between or under these trees. A hedge of two types of guava and nitrogen fixing myrtle. Other plants include Fuchia, asparagus, cardoon, strawberries, comfrey, currents (to plant), rubarbs, various herbs and flowers. 1.5 cubic meters of home made compost to kick start it, then 1 cubic meter of wood chips to suppress weeds and provide food for the plants as time goes by. Designed and planted by students of our Food Forest Cours
New completed polycultures in the food forest
Community day helping at a local farm to prune some trees and clear our a stable
We have some new chickens, these ones are in our movable chicken house that we move each day so they can eat weeds, break up compost and poo on our garden beds. They do our work for us, eat as they go, fertilize for us and will provide us sustainble meat in 8 weeks time ,all the wile doing the work of a tractor and fertiliser to give us sustainable vegetables.
building a rhubarb bed, with black and red currants, strawberries, various herbs and nasturtiums
Our third asparagus bed in complete, this one is planted with our 4th varieties of strawberries. Each asparagus bed has been planted differently so we can learn which way is the best way in years to come. Asparagus just needs to be planted once and will produce asparagus for 25 years. All of these have been grown organically from seed and will produce at least 1/2 kilo of asparagus per day next spring. We have more than 200 varieties of plants that you plant once and enjoy food every year after, these are called perennial plants. Many perennial plants growing together in such a way that they support each other is called a food forest.
New swale complete. We have built a swale (a ditch on contour to catch water and allow it to soak into the ground) on our course above the new food forest we are currently planting. It is complete with a stone bridge that we made as it crosses a path through the food fores
Planting out the new polyculture
New wood chip bed (back to eden gardening). We cover the ground with compost, then cardboard then 20cm of wood chips. This will kill a lot of the weeds and hold moisture in the soil. We already have a few beds like this and they are growing amazing vegetables here in portugal
Bonfire night cooking stick bread on the fire with wine
New perennial bed of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, physalis, herbs and flowers all mixed in. Planted on the path so we can grab the berries as we walk along
Area for the new Polycultures before we started
New three sisters bed, sweetcorn with beans growing up them and squash as a ground cover
working in the kitchen garden, this is a garden right next to the kitchen, where we grow herbs, lettace, various kales and perennial plants for salads. So we can quickly harvest a salad and herbs for cooking
Weeding existing polycultures and guilds in the food forest. We dont just plant them, we have to look after them. Each year as the plants get bigger, the weeding becomes less
VOlunteers heloing to weed the onion beds
We did a trip to the market to buy the trees for the food forest and the organic vegetables we needed to supplement the vegetables from the garden
tour of reforestation project
One of our polycultures planted on the last course
Thank you Grow&Flow for the visit and tour of your permaculture farm for our food forest course students. Glow and Flow are one of our suppliers of fresh vegetables when we have larger courses and our garden cannot keep up with the demand. Highly recommended veggies if you live near Castelo Branco/Penamacor or Fundão.
we marked out swales on contour and dug them out by hand and machine. A swale is a ditch on contour which catches water and allows it to slowly sink into the ground, they help to reduce erosion, spread water uphill and store it in the ground where it will not evaporate. We now have almost 5km of swales on our land. Some have trees planted in,, some are ready for a reforestation effort this winter and some are just to reduce erosion and keep water uphill to improve grass for pasture. We will continue to add swales on our food forest courses each year
Digging the sunken bed
Adding wood chips to the new polyculture
Pruning trees to make them grow to the shape we want, for weasy harvest and larger harvest
Working on our chicken house as part of the food forest course. We planted a food forest for chickens, now we are finishing their house which is made out of natural materials from our land. We hope to have the new well design chicken house up and running by the summer, these chickens will be part of our chicken powered compost system. Our aim is to get eggs and meat for free. They will eat worms and bugs in the compost system, forage in the food forests planted for them and be supplemented sprouted grains that we will grow for them within one of their food forests
Marking lines with lime on contour for a tractor to dig out swales, we now have 5km of swales!
Learning how to use water levels and other instruments to make out contours
Making compost piles
Maintaining our food forests, we remove some weeds and put new plants in any spaces. we like to keep he beds full as have to irrigate the trees in the middle so we may as well have more plants in there.
We now have bees! We have 3 bee hives with bees and one almost set up to catch swarming bees. We are told the average harvest per bee hive can make 15 kilos of honey, for Keela Yoga Farm to be self sufficient in honey we need 4 successful bee hives.
Daily fresh salad from the garden
Students learning how to graft trees on our food forest course. Did you know the fruit you buy in the supermarkets are usually from grafted trees, these are cloned trees. This is because if you grow an apple, orange or pear tree from seed it will not grow into a tree that has fruit that is the same as the tree the fruit came from. It will probably have a fruit that you won’t enjoy eating. This is why we graft, we clone a tree…. this is one of the techniques we teach on our food forest courses. We do however also grow wild trees from seed in our reforestation program where we will leave the fruit for birds (unless by chance we create a new type of fruit hat we enjoy to eat)
Managing chickens for eggs, these guys make us compost in the chicken house, we add materials daily such as weeds, woodchips, charcoal, food scraps and straw it composts down and the chicken eat the worms as we flip it. We are scaling up this operation in our new chicken food forest
Building a fence around the food forest
We had a two day foraging and natural medicine workshop from Raquelle
We are looking for
volunteers to help us work in our food forests
If you would like to join one of our food forest courses please click here