Seven Layers of our Food Forest in Plettenberg Bay

Seven Layers of our Food Forest in Plettenberg Bay

A Food Forest will actually replicate itself over time and have perfect balance. The balanced compounds produce food. We mimic natural ecosystems of indigenous forests and produce food sustainably.

What are the seven layers of a food forest?

Food Forest Layers
Illustration of the seven layers of a permaculture food forest

All layers work to occupy all the space and moderate a local micro climate.

1) Canopy Layer

The Canopy Layer is composed of species with large crowns that are providing shade during the hot and dry periods of the year. Those trees are able to adapt their shape to reach the best light spot. Wild Olive Trees form the majority of our canopy layer.

Canopy Trees

2) Understory Layer

The understory layer consists of small nut and fruit trees. Those trees tolerate some shade or fill sunny gaps. We have small fruit trees like Orange, Mango, Lemon, Lime, Figs but also the queen of Nuts - Macadamias they all act as food

See the plants growing in our Understory Layer .

Understory Layer - Fruit Trees
Guava Tree

3) Shrub Layer

The bushes of the shrub layer strive in semi-shade. Cape Gooseberries, Pepino Melons, Bananas Blueberries,... 

See the plants growing in our Shrub Layer


4) Herbaceous Layer

The herb layer often contains annual plants like Basil and other herbaceous plants. With hardly any frost throughout the year we can grow most of our herbs as perennials too. Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Mint,..

See our Forest Garden Herbaceous Layer Species 

Herb Layer

5) Root Layer

Another important layer is the root layer. Those plants pull up nutrients and minerals trapped in rocks to the plants. 

Beetroot - Rootlayer Plant

6) Groundcover Layer

You aim to have 100% of our ground covered to minimise erosion and protect topsoil from drought.  Nasturtiums and Strawberries help to prevent soil erosion from sun and wind. They also slow down raindrops and soften their impact on topsoil especially

Nasturtiums GroundcoverStrawberries as Ground Cover in Food Forest

7) Vine Layer

Probably the coolest layer is the vertical layer composed of climber plants. Grapes and Passion Fruit climb up trunks and branches of the bigger

Passion fruit vine
Passion Fruit Vine

To maximise yields and make use of all the space vines are a must have for an established food forest while they look cool growing along other trees!

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