A permaculture forest is a healthy ecosystem in which many different plants (and animals) coexist. It therefore offers an obvious contrast to the common way of agriculture where mainly mono-cultures are applied. Mono-culture farming gives the opportunity to handle the harvesting more easily, but leads to unfertile soils and great amounts of fertilizer and pesticides have to be used, to lower the sensitivity of the respective plant species against insects or fungi. Permaculture has an easier solution to these problems. Through the variability of the interacting arts of plants fungi do not have the chance to spread that easily and also an attack of insects is not such a big deal as in mono-cultures since the availability of natural predators reduces the incidence of plagues. In an edible forest, nature can create a balance and thrive.
We intend to establish the edible forest on our farm land (30 hectares of degraded farm land in the Amazon region of Peru) after the input from the book "The Vegan Book of Permaculture". The author, Graham Burnett, proposes a subdivision of the land in six zones, arranged in more or less concentric circles. The difference between vegan permaculture and conventional permaculture is that in vegan permaculture absolutely no animal products are used. Not even the soils are fertilized with animal excrement, since buying these would mean a direct support towards the livestock industry.
Zone 0: Here you find the living quarters with all remaining accommodations, common rooms, cleaning areas, outdoor installations, kitchens and so on. Of course even here everything should be as natural and sustainable as possible. This can mean on the one hand green areas on the roof tops or on the other hand a bunch of fresh herbs and spices in the kitchen. The produced waste is used as fertilizer so it returns to the system from where it originated.
Zone 1: In zone 1 herbs and bushes, which need a lot of attention and are used more or less daily, are planted. The green spots in this area are kept clean and grass is cut regularly. This ensures that spiders, snakes and other dangerous animals do not build their nests so close to human living quarters.
Zone 2: This zone still looks more or less similar to a garden but is on the path of crossing over into a forest. Here are different vegetable patches located with types that only need to be watered and taken care of once or twice a week. In this area small fruit trees, bushes with fruits and perennial herbs and vegetable types can be planted.
Zone 3: Here most of the production takes place. Greater amounts of for example soy beans, coconuts or other fruits are planted. These do need a lot of place indeed, but not much attention. After plantation a weekly check up or less and, if necessary, watering should be enough.
Zone 4: Zone 4 is semi wild nature. Here long living trees are planted which for example can be used for wood production. Attention should be paid to this zone at least once a year. Apart from that zone 4 is basically left on its own.
Zone 5: Jungle. In zone 5 nature is given free rein. The human impact on the ecosystem is minimized so that all remaining species can live in it without disturbance. This zone serves humans only as example, meaning that they can see, learn and understand how ecosystems behave and develop in a natural manner.