am 21. Juni 2000
In many climates around the world, forest is the natural state of vegetation. It grows without anyone's say-so. It takes no human effort at all for nature to be sustainable, diverse, productive, multi-dimensional, and beautiful. However, most people's gardens, even food gardens, are really none of these, despite large amounts of effort on the part of the gardeners. So what would it be like to garden in tune with nature, to grow a forest garden, with many of the features of a natural forest, and little of the labour usually involved in gardening? Robert Hart pioneered this approach to growing food sustainably, based on his long experience of agro-forestry around the world. He applied his wisdom to his backyard and wrote about it in the classics, 'Forest Gardening' and 'Beyond the Forest Garden'. However, much of what Hart wrote was general and philosophical - explaining the 'why' perhaps more than the 'how'. Patrick Whitefield has produced this intensely practical guide to the 'how' of forest gardening, starting from first principles and including all manner of precise details. Whitefield is an experienced permaculture practicioner and teacher, and he rightly places the forest garden in context as a very useful component of a larger system of sustainable living. On the strength of this book I am in the process of transforming my standard suburban plot into a beautiful forest garden, with apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, loganberries, figs, redcurrants, perennial herbs and salads. It has proved to be an invaluable and much thumbed manual, and an inspirational work. It is directly applicable to temperate climates, and will be of use to those living elsewhere too.