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Re-imagining a grassy plot as a food forest

This week I’ve been working on another home food production design project to learn some skills for the future, and I’ve tried to re-imagine a place I’ve come to know very well and had a chance to observe over a long enough period of time. Knowledge of the site is a fundamental prerequisite and, to be honest, I had been imagining what this space could look like since before opening this blog. 

The plot is a grassy space surrounded mostly by tall trees like Fraxinus excelsior and Betula alba, which slopes towards a stream of water running along the south-west side. Yes, it is part of a city park, but I simply imagined natural forest to surround it, as if the Clyde Valley in Glasgow had never been urbanised, and the plot was given to me the way it looks to be re-designed.

My first concern was re-directing the great amount of rain water which falls on Scotland towards an area closer to the stream, and eventually in it, to avoid the water-logging I’ve observed affecting the site for part of the year. For this reason I have imagined a system of swales (marked as light blue lines) spiraling down towards a pond (4.), able to overflow towards the stream through a trench. I then decided where to place the structures based on orientation and access to the plot, and designed the house (1.), with a greenhouse (-a) and a roofed cooking deck (-d) on the left. On the right there are a shed (-b) and a vine-covered roof (-c) under which wood is kept. The area in front of the house, which benefits from a sheltered position and south-facing exposure, is devoted to raised beds, keyhole gardens and herb spirals (-e)

A few days ago I created a part house-greenhouse design which you can see here.

Close to the house, on the left, a living structure created weaving willow (2.) and pliable vines, possibly made watertight with thatching, is used for recreation, storage, or even as shelter for birds and other animals, while an actual chicken coop is placed next to it. Deep in our forest, away from the frequently visited areas, but also close to the center of the plot, I placed beehives (3.). 

The food forest (5.), mostly contained within the swales, is divided into a few sections by the extensive and intricate pathways, indicated with red lines. They are not necessary, but I love to walk and I would certainly incorporate them in my own design. In each section different guilds would be established: the upper part of section I, section II, III and IV would house lower-growing plants which require more attention and more frequent visits, while the lower portion of section I, V and VI would generally be visited for maintenance and harvested less often.

Surrounding the house and the food forest, X, Y and Z are areas where no alien species are introduced and human intervention is kept to a minimum. 

W indicates the stream delimiting the plot and, on the other side, more native forest shades the creek. 

There are so many more details that could be written, but now the question is, what would you add, or remove? How would you improve this design? 


Photos from Google Maps, Design and editing by me