When people think about growing food, they normally think about annual crops: fruits, vegetables, and grains that are planted in the spring, harvested in the fall, and planted again the next year. While this is the dominant model in both industrial agriculture and backyard gardening, it’s actually a very inefficient way of producing food.
A much more efficient way, in terms of land area and maintenance effort required, is to plant what’s known as a food forest. A food forest is an intermingling of perennial crops – like fruit trees, berry bushes, and vines – that produce food year after year without needing to be replanted.
The downside of food forests is that they take a long time to become established, and may produce little or nothing in the first few years. After that, though, they provide a lifetime of fresh food with minimal work.