Research on Temperate Forest Garden Systems



We just published our RESEARCH ARTICLE in the scientific journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (Open Access). Enjoy and please share with anyone who might be interested.

If you’d like to read and or share my thesis (contains literature review plus article above) you can find it here for free:

This is huge for me and, I believe, for the scientific community as there were no quantitative peer reviewed articles on forest garden systems published before this point. There were plenty on agroforestry systems, which is very needed and provided an amazing base for this research. I hope the two can continue to build together to help science support farmers in shifting how food is grown.

I am also working to publish my literature review.

The experimental sites are being cared for and research is continuing, which is fantastic!!!! Please get in contact with Rene Van Acker and or Ralph Martin at the University of Guelph to show your interest.

Paul M.Sc. Food Forest Poster Org. Conf.jpgScientific poster for Guelph Organic Conference 2016 – Paul Wartman M.Sc. Research on Temperate Climate Forest Garden Systems

Background on Research:

With the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, Paul Wartman of Many Rivers Permaculture has finished a two-year, thesis-based Masters degree in Plant Agriculture: Temperate Climate Forest Garden Systems.

What is a Forest Garden System? A Forest Garden System is an ecosystem design that incorporates forest ecosystem principles, such as perennial plants, biodiversity, vertical layers, and natural succession, into agricultural practices. The affects include regenerating the surrounding environment through building organic matter, increasing overall yields, and reducing external inputs (i.e. synthetic fertilizers and pesticides), just to name a few.

The research takes place at three sites: 1) Ecosource’s Iceland Teaching Garden (ITG) in Mississauga, 2) The Guelph Center for Urban Organic Farming (GCUOF) in Guelph, and, 3) The Ignatius Farm in Guelph/Eramosa.
It consists of implementing four distinct ‘treatments’ of which the effects on the soil and on newly established apple trees will be measured. The treatments include:

1) Grass understory and hard wood chip mulch in tree root zone,
2) Grass understory + COMPOST and hard wood chip mulch,
3) Diverse perennial understory with hard wood chip mulch, and,
4) Diverse perennial understory + COMPOST with hard wood chip mulch.
These will be randomly assigned to all ‘experimental units’ or plots.


There are 32 plots over all three sites: 12 at Ignatius, 12 at GCUOF, and 8 at ITG, respectively. Each plot is 4 ft x 15 ft in dimension and will contain 1 apple tree (Ida Red on M7 rootstock M7, which is a semi-dwarf size). The apple tree will be our ‘observational unit’ and we will be monitoring them for health by measuring their physical growth. The soil within the plots will be our ‘experimental unit’ and we will measure the direct effects of the ‘treatments’. Specifically, we will be using analytical techniques to look at the change in diversity and abundance of soil bacterial and fungal communities.

Cool, eh?


Soil Analysis

Weighing out sub samples

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Thanks and good eatin’!
-Many Rivers Permaculture


2 thoughts on “Research on Temperate Forest Garden Systems

  1. Pingback: Not just a feeling, peer reviewed research | On the way to nicer

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