The back forty.
Although our fruit tree orchard was originally designed as a structured orchard—trees planted on a grid in a wide expanse of mown suburban lawn—over the years it has taken on the qualities of (both through design and happenstance) a more complex system, in permaculture terms, what is known as a food forest.
The term “food forest” refers to a vertical layering of various plantings that together act as a codependent system that allows the inherent nature of the various layers to thrive in their proximity to one another.
Typically defined as having seven layers, our particular food forest on the property (note that there is actually more than one variation here), includes an overstory of pecan, mulberry, lucaena and mesquite rising above an understory of pommes, stonefruit, figs, loquats and citrus (the planted orchard). Just below that are shrub (blackberries, boysenberries and sugarcane) and vine layers (grapes), and a layer of below ground, root zone tubers consisting mainly of Jerusalem artichokes.
Our grasses layer includes oats, wheat and rye, along with a ground cover layer of hairy vetch and clover. Mint and marjoram add a herbaceous layer to the ground plane. As always, with any regenerative system, it is one that continually shifts and changes as it grows.