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070 – Geoff Lawton Food Forests

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Paul Wheaton and Helen Atthowe (www.veganicpermaculture.com) watch Geoff Lawton's Food Forest video and Helen really loved it. It shows a food forest as they start it, at 6 months, a year, 3 years, 10 years. Paul thinks it is one of the best permaculture videos. Lawton starts by talking about 3 concepts: the layering of systems--there are 7-10 layers of a forest, succession of systems--how nature repairs itself, and time--working with different events (ex: sun, shade, flood) in time. Paul shares Helen's hesitancy using the word "permaculture." They also talk about the word "science" and "studies." Lawton has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd recovery plants. The first are: annuals, nitrogen fixers, ground covers, leguminous shrubs. The second are: medium size nitrogen fixing trees, (later, to be chopped at head height in order to nurture the longer term trees). The third are: longer term nitrogen fixing trees. Paul explains the word "pollarding." Black locust wouldn't work well as a second plant because it never really rots. Helen suggests starting with a forest system and releasing the plants that you want. You could graft what you want onto wild species that are already there. Helen argues that the only way to have a release of nitrogen in the soil from legumes is to mow or prune them. Paul argues that they also release nitrogen when they are stressed. Helen thinks you still need to fertilize, rather than just plant a legume next to something like a fruit tree. Paul doesn't like the fact that Lawton used cardboard--he has concerns with using cardboard/newspaper as mulch. Helen talks about how interactive diversity makes stability in the system both in nutrient cycling and in weed and disease pest management. Helen shares about her experience with cabbage worms. She also shares about diversifying carbon input to diversify primary decomposers. Lawton creates a diversity of residues by managing a diversity of plants. Paul critiques Lawton's chicken pen. Paul liked his position on having fast carbon species, and planting most trees from seed. If Helen did market farming again, she would still do rows. They briefly talk about working with beneficial weeds and letting them repair the landscape. Paul mentions his mullein video.

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