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Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscap

Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscap
Robert Hart
White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication Date: 

paper, 234 p., $17.95

An English gardening classic, revised and expanded for North America, this book explores, according to its promoters, the principles of a "backyard perma-culture." This book begins by describing the concepts of agro-forestry, where trees are cultivated in conjunction with crops. The book argues that the forest garden is the most productive garden of all in terms of land use. A small area, according to Hart, can support a family of 10 and can become a way of life in terms of the other kinds of life supported within its domain.

The opening chapters describe the methods of agro-forestry, where the author explains how his small farm in Shropshire works. In the chapter on the "Wenlock Edge Project," Hart describes a variety of tasks and projects, as well as their solutions over time in his garden.

There are occasions in this book when the author drifts into theoretical discussions on topics as wide-ranging as basket weaving, world hunger and the potential for agro-forestry to solve a multitude of problems. The organizational skills and manpower required make many of these ideas unrealistic.

Although heavy on theory, this book provides an inspiration for more efficient use of land. It is not an American-style "how-to" book, but rather more of an outline of an idea, a system of multistoried forest gardens. Appendices include lists of recommended plants as well as other resources. This book probably will only appeal to a very limited audience, those ready to take on the heady combination of chores and philosophy.

— Jean E. Bedger