Food Forests – Farm to Fork Wyoming

(whimsical music) – [Woman With Glasses]
We decided we would try and develop a food
forest here in Sheridan. – [Narrator] In
Sheridan and Casper, there are a couple of projects
that offer a departure from our hyper-productive
food system. – So, the idea was to get food naturally in a setting that
would make it itself so you didn’t have to
really do a whole lot with it, you just
needed to forage. By August of 2016, we had this all planted. – [Narrator] Food forest on
this Farm to Fork Wyoming. – [Narrator] Funding
for Farm to Fork Wyoming is provided by
Wyoming Community Bank, your locally-owned
community bank in Riverton and
Lander and on the web at www .wyo, and by Viewers Like You. Thank you. – [Narrator] In
Casper, Tara Farm and Nursery has been
harvesting from this permaculture garden for
a number of years now. (geese honk) – But the idea of permaculture, and one of the funny
ironies of it is permanent agriculture, or
permanent horticulture. Permaculture, and
yet, one of the basic, basic understandings
of permaculture practice is change
is the only constant. – [Narrator] What
these two projects have in common is the idea of
creating a food source that you don’t need
to replant each year. Instead, they establish
a diverse, ever-evolving community of trees,
shrubs, and perennials that mature and
change over time. – Many people have
annual gardens, but the value of berries, and trees,
and perennials is something that
I hadn’t thought about before, and I thought
that’d be a great thing. – It’s been like nothing
else I’ve worked on yet. Most of my experiences is
helping people with vegetable gardens, which are typically
annual-type plants. Here, we have perennial
food plants and trees, and then we’ve got this wild
component for pollinators. So, what I’m trying to
promote here, hoping to educate people on, is the diversity that you can get
off of one piece of ground. – [Narrator] This is
an idea that is quite familiar to those who
practice permaculture. – So, it really is
landscape design. It’s just a design that is
based upon the observations of what nature has
already figured out. So, instead of being
artistic and throwing all that conventionalism
to the wind that’s been figured out for
the last millions of years, we base our design on nature. – This doesn’t have to
be just fruit trees. That’s typically the
way that we were taught agriculture is your plant is good, all other plants are bad.
(woman laughs) This thing embraces
all the other plants, because everything has
a use to something. – So, diversity is a huge part of design work in permaculture, and for good reason,
in that, of course, obviously, nature figured
out that’s the way to survive, because you have a diverse group of
things in an ecosystem. – And what we’re demonstrating
here is that you can have two different things happening
on the same piece of ground. So, you’ve got a
fruit tree here, but why not have a
plant that benefits pollinators right
under the fruit tree? They can coexist. We call it companion planting. – [Narrator] And
this diversity comes with the benefit of resilience. – So, when you build what
you call a food forest, you’ll have a couple of
different kinds of fruit. Now, what happened
this year, the flowers that were on here,
right in the period of time that they would
have had the potential to produce fruit, we
had one of those heavy monsoonal downpours
here, and all of the flowers turned
brown the next day. So no elderberries,
but the chokecherries just were crazy. I have pounds of
them in my freezer. So, the diversity in the tiers, if you don’t have one of
these, you have one of these. That’s resiliency. – [Narrator] While Tara
Farm is a private nursery, the Sheridan Food Forest
is a public space, and has a social layer to
include in its planning. – We also decided that
this place would be open to the public,
there would be no overruling things in or out, but there would be the policy that
if you wanted to plant here, ’cause many people do
ask if they can do that, and yes, they can plant here. As you can see over
here, somebody decided to come in and plant squash. So, that was something that one of the people who lives
around here decided that they wanted squash,
so they got to plant it, but they must realize
that if they do, then that food is shared
with the community, and you’ll see some tomatoes
over against the fence. We planted garlic
and things like that. So people can, and do,
come in and plant things, but if it’s gone when it’s ready to be picked, and they
don’t get a share, they realize that
that’s what it is. The fun for them is
in actually planting the things and
watching them grow. – [Narrator] Ultimately,
there was a clear structural strategy when building
these plant communities. – The diversity
should be not just in the types of plants you have, but also, over time
and over space. So, over space there
are certain plants that actually need
to be the lowest tier in a group. There are some that need to
be in that middle ground. There are some,
the job of which is purely canopy, and the way
those things have evolved together in that group, in that sub-ecosystem, that
is how they survive. So when we look at
doing an installation, we want to observe in nature
how the original ancestors of whatever we’re
putting in survived, and I can show you an
example if we come over here. By the way, there’s a
bullsnake named Phoebe who lives in here, and I’ll
let you know I see her. (shrieks) So, this little thing right
here is a Cheyenne Mock Orange. It doesn’t look
like much right now, but it grows into the most
beautiful understory shrub, and the white flowers,
honest to goodness, smell like orange blossoms
have never smelled. It does not produce
fruit, but the yields that we talk about,
obtaining a yield in permaculture,
those yields include beauty, and flowers,
and fragrance, and so, in June, when those
white flowers open up, and the breeze is just right, you’re happy to be
out working hard on the things you
have to work hard on. It’s not just about the food, because even in those
naturally-derived groups, there’s some that
don’t have food, but when the leaves
fall off this, it becomes organic
material in the understory and feeds the soil to allow
more nutrients to build. So, there’s always
some kind of key role. (calm music) – [Narrator] And while
Sheridan waits for its shrubs and trees to mature and
bear fruit, it invites and nurtures another key
element: its pollinators. – ‘Cause that was the other
specific that we wanted to do. We knew that bees may
indeed be in trouble, and we wanted to see how
many bees were in the area so that we would
have pollinators. We would have a count
every year, and try and increase the food, and
see if we could draw in pollinators, and see
how many there were. – We’ve done these censuses
every month since we started in the summer months
back in 2016, in August. We counted 15 native bees, and about 10 wasps and hornets, and maybe one pollinating
fly, and then moving on to this year, the last count
we did was a couple of weeks ago on August 18th, and
we’re up to 138 native bees. So, the food forest
plantings have done a tremendous job of increasing
the native pollinators. (bee buzzes) – We are seeing all kinds
of pollinators here. I’ve seen everything
from honeybees, to mason bees, there’s a wasp
there, but it’s on flowers, and this is the first
week of September. It’s a really critical time for
some of these solitary bees, because right now is when
the queens are developing that will produce next
generation next year. So, it’s a really critical time, and of course, your
fruit trees don’t have any flowers on ’em in September. – [Tara Farm Owner]
Now, once all these flowers get open
on this Blue Spirea, it will be covered. I will have eight or 10
different types of bees. I don’t think people realize
how many native bees there are. The carpenters, and the mason bees, this is a
little bumblebee. – So, we’ve been looking
at plants here that bloom at different parts of the year, so there’s always something
available for these pollinators. – But there are also
other pollinators
people don’t realize. There are flies, some
flies that actually look like bees, that serve a
good pollinator function; there are butterflies; moths, and that moth is pollinating,
he’s not just flittin’ around. – The other creature
that is attracted by this are the tiny wasps
that are beneficial insects, and they have,
their bodies just glow and shimmer like
mother of pearl. They’re very, very tiny. They won’t sting you if
you don’t sting them. They’ll just crawl around until you scare them, but
they do two things: They’re pollinators,
because they go from flower to flower,
but they also lay their eggs in insects
that are pests. Soft-bodied nymphs, the babies, they’ll lay
their eggs in those. So, they also are
beneficial insects, not just pollinators, if
you’re talking categories. So, they also reduce
the predatory insects that are gonna
damage your fruit. – [Man With Glasses] Hornets
also pollinate things. – These yellow jackets,
I’ve always gotten along well with them. Actually, I view them
as a beneficial insect, because they eat so many
aphids and caterpillars. They are carnivores, and
that’s what they’re doin’ here crawlin’ around
is they’re lookin’ for things, they’re
lookin’ for meat, and–
– (laughs) They’re looking for meat. (laughs) – So, they’re kind
of a natural control. – [Narrator] In solitary,
native bees ensure the pollination of
numerous wild fruit crops. – The native bees nest
in holes and crevices, often in the ground,
but you can attract ’em by makin’ a bee house here. Harold Golden has
made this by drilling holes in a short log here. (car zooms) He’s put this screen on there to keep birds out
of it, I guess. – [Harold] Woodpeckers. Damn suckers.
– Woodpeckers, and some of the holes have
bee eggs and larva behind ’em, and then they stuff
it with mortar. – But those holes are
drilled this deep. So, the bee, the queen, will go to the back of the hole and lay an egg, and
then she’ll bring in honey and pollen,
that’s all balled up, and put that in
there for that egg to feed on, and then
she builds a wall (car zooms) inside that tunnel, and then
she’ll come in and start over. A new egg, another ball
of pollen and honey, that she’s gathered from
around here, and seal that off. So, each of these
holes here may have as many as a dozen
bees in there. So, this was probably
the work of one queen, but after these are
filled, she dies. That’s it for this summer. These eggs then will
overwinter and develop next spring, feeding on
the honey and pollen, and they’ll emerge next
spring, mate, start again. So, it’s an annual thing. One of the things you look at when you’re trying to locate one of these houses, or where
to put it, is a mud source. They can only fly like 100 feet. So, we have to have
our pollen source, pollen and nectar,
within 100 feet, and we need a mud
source here too, and if you think about
it from a population standpoint, it’s a really
fragile survival strategy. If we had a late
frost or something, or a disease that came through, some climate change, whatever, that wiped out that
year’s generation, there’s nothing to carry
through to the next year. So, I’m amazed that
they’ve made it this long, but they’re just fascinating
little creatures. (bee buzzes) (playful music) – [Narrator] And
these gardens include a number of berry plants
that have coevolved with these native pollinators. (bee buzzes) – [Woman With Glasses]
This little area, these are all gooseberry plants. – And they’re very early. They produce in probably June, I think, is when I
harvested off those. So, spatially, the lower level, temporally, they’re
gonna be one of your earliest
fruits if they take. – They’re native to Wyoming, and they have
little green berries. I don’t know if you’re
familiar with those. – On this side,
these are currants. In the wild, we have
the golden currant, the alpine currant, we
have native currants. These are horticultural
derivatives of the natives, but they are crazy happy here. I have red, and a pink,
and the black currants are my absolute favorite, and
again, I have pounds of these. They are so ripe right
now, and they are on the wild side, which
means they have seeds, and they don’t get
sweet like strawberries or raspberries, but they produce
the most wonderful juice. – [Woman With Glasses] In this
area, these are strawberries. We had a good hill of
strawberries this year and they, a lot of
people had them. People were making
strawberry drinks. – So, the riparian grape. This is a wonderful, this is one of the great ancestors, native
grapes in North America. There’s two of them. Riparia and brusca were
the two native grapes that were found
in North America. This is a native riparian. This is not a horticultural,
and it’s doing very well. These vines then can fill
in those middle ranges that sometimes are left
open when you’re putting an installation in
for a food forest. Now, they don’t produce as quickly as people like,
but it’s very healthy, and for people in Wyoming,
they should know this, there is a nematode in
Wyoming that carries a virus that causes
something that’s called mosaic virus, and it
makes the leaves look like little mosaics,
or glass windows. It won’t kill the plant,
it doesn’t stop the food. – Our longterm
goal, then, would be to train this
single cane to come up here and divide
and move out this way, and then we’ll
have grapes up here where you can stand up and pick. You don’t have to
bend over to pick. – Let’s look at
some more grapes, because there’s really a variety that work in Wyoming,
and every time I go to farmer’s
market with the plants, people say, “Grapes don’t grow
in Wyoming!” and I’m like, “Okay, well somebody needs
to tell my grapes that.” These are valiant grapes. They’re two steps away from
the riparian we just saw. So, the riparian is
the great-grandparent. Concord grape is the next step. Everyone’s familiar
with Concord grapes. Super hardy, really
heavy producers. That was the one that was
developed out of that riparian. Valiant grape is the next step. It has a larger, sweeter fruit, but it’s extremely hardy
here, does very well, and these, I just noticed,
these are two-year-old vines, and, look what we
have right here. I’ll try and bring ’em out
in the sun so you can see. I was really worried the
weird weather was going to cause a problem with
ripening, but look at that. So, if we take, we go to
European native grapes, this is one that was
developed out of that. This is a Frontenac. This is a real
French wine grape. This is also a
two-year-old vine. A perennial vegetable
that would be in your very low tier,
rhubarb, grows like crazy here. I’ve already harvested these, but even though we
hear about the poison that is in, the nicotinic
acid, I think it is, that’s in the rhubarb leaves, grasshoppers don’t
seem to know this. So when people talk about
using neonicotinoids, you might as well count
out the grasshoppers of Wyoming, because
nothing stops them, okay? So, then here’s the mother plant for the grapes, and again, oh look! I’m so happy! There was one year
I actually got five gallons of juice
just off this one plant. It is not that big,
but, if you look underneath here, there’s grapes, little clumps of grapes
everywhere, everywhere. – This is all, these
are all raspberries. – These are Everbearing. The reason they look like this
is that the deer got in here, and she nipped everything off
early in the season, but look. There’s brand-new growth at
the ends of every one of these. This is going to be something in your food forest
or your installation that would be full
sun, out of the wind. This is directly into clay soil. So, this is not
amended soil, other than the mulch you see on top. I wanted to see
what they would do directly into clay soil, because so many of my clients,
that’s all they have, and if you’ve ever tried
to improve clay soil, you’ll be spending
more time doing that than harvesting your
fruit, but look at this. They do great. Here’s, this is
actually one plant. This is a mother
plant all along this, and with the Everbearing, what I like about choosing that one, last year’s canes would
produce this year’s first crop, and as you’re watching
the babies grow, the new canes growing up, that’s
gonna be your second crop. So, because the
deer got me here, I lost the first crop,
but I have a second crop. – This is the asparagus patch, and you can see the ferns here. So, this is (mumbles)
the third year that we’ve planted
this, and so next year, people will be able to actually
come in and take the spear. – And, another
perennial vegetable, which a lot of people
will recognize, but some people are very
surprised at is asparagus. It’s in straight clay,
and I harvest 50%, and then I let 50% of
it go to like this. – Walking here a little farther, these bushes will get
six to eight feet tall, and have cherries the size of
what you could get in a store. – Let’s take a look
at the buffaloberry, if we could do that. This is buffaloberry. It’s a native to the
Northern Rockies. We actually have it
native here in the area. Of course, all these
things prefer to grow in a riparian river creek zone, but they do (laughs)
well just about anywhere. A couple of things
about buffaloberry: One, yes it does produce fruit. Two, you are taking your life in your hands when you harvest it. Three, it is a nitrogen fixer. Even after these leaves fall, they have more nitrogen in them than the air and the
soil around them, so as they decay,
not only do you get it from the roots, but you also
get it from the fall leaves. They have very long,
sticky, horrible, painful, nasty thorns,
which they hide really well. Here we go. It has a little, you’ll
see a little barb there. Once it sticks in
you, it breaks off. Now, you see how big that is. These are deer resistant
because of that, so I usually install
these in a hedgerow or a windbreak on the wild side. When we talk about
permaculture zones, zone one is the most
activity, closest to civilization, all
the way out to five, which is the wildlife corridor. You just manage
that for wildlife. So, this would be something
that you would put on the wildlife side
of an installation. It grows very thick. It loses all its
leaves in the winter, but because of the
density of the branches, it still provides some buffer, but with the leaves
off, it also lets the sun in, so you can
get some solar warmth, whereas right now, it’s shading the hottest side
of my cabin here. So, you could, I could
easily list 20 to 25 things that this
particular plant does. There’s so much
positive potential in this particular plant,
and it’s native here. So that’s the coolest thing is you don’t have to
work very hard, but you do have to know
where you’re putting it, and as far as harvesting those
berries, here’s the trick. When they’re really
dark, really golden red, you get one night
that’s 40 degrees or so, we have those every
once in a while, and they’re ready to go, you
put a sheet underneath it, and you beat it
with a broomstick. (woman laughs)
– We get excited about this place, because of the potential of what
you can do with it. (dramatic music) – Being able to do this, for the majority of people, is a luxury. It shouldn’t be. It should be so practical. – Everybody remembers
pickin’ apples as a kid. (woman laughs) Maybe now you’re 70 years old,
and you live in an apartment. You don’t have that
opportunity anymore. – I had a woman in
one of my classes who was way up into
her 80s, and every time I would talk about
something, she was sitting there nodding her
head, and she’s nodding her head, and her eyes
are shining like this, and she goes, “Everything
you’re saying, “my grandmother taught
me, and where is it now?” – So, there’s a
group that might come here just wantin’
to pick some apples to make a jar o’ jelly,
and that’s fun for them. There will be other
people that wanna come here, and we’ve
seen some already, they just come here just
on their daily walk, and they just
swing through here, just kind of a little
nature walk thing. So, it’s a little timeout spot. – It also has impacts that we
may never, ever be aware of, but it increases the
quality of somebody’s life. – [Narrator] This
episode of Farm to Fork Wyoming is
available for $25. Order online at This program was
produced by WyomingPBS, which is solely responsible
for its content. To learn more and watch
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