Episode-1383- The Forest Market Garden Concept — 91 Comments

  1. Good day, does anybody know the episode # that had a lot of Info on CO2? It included the letter from a listener that gave co2 levels throughout history, which won him a 1 yr MSB award. Seems I’m not placing proper keywords in search. Sincere thanks, Daniel

    • This is KYPharmer who submitted my thoughts on carbon dioxide
      I would be happy to e mail my carbon dioxide text anyone who would like a copy for open source use so long as Jack has no objections.
      I am starting to learn how to add to TSP wiki and when I find time I hope to add some carbon info.
      Kinda cool karma: The night that episode aired I was asked to meet with an Boy Scout Eagle candidate to discuss his service project. He was asked to remove invasive bush honeysuckle around an HOA nature trail. I am a Pharmacist but also have a degree in biology and am now a permaculture enthusiast so it only makes sense to suggest doing more than just cutting honeysuckle as requested. He made the decision to upgrade the project to digging out the honeysuckle, shredding the honeysuckle to make mulch, then replacing the honeysuckle with spicebush (20), elderberry (5) and paw paw (3). We even made spicebush tea to refresh the workforce. Shawn had to push it to what he thought was his leadership limits to lead this aggressive project (also building a foot bridge that won’t cost a million in tax dollars). I am very proud of Shawn and his progress, proud of my efforts mentoring him and know that Jack and the TSP community inspired me to push for expanding this project. We didn’t just cut and burn honeysuckles but helped to create a food (medicine) forest too. Bottom line: PLANT SHIT and we can solve our carbon dioxide problems 🙂

  2. Does anyone have any perennial crop ideas? I live in climate zone 4 in a valley bottom. I get apples and pears once every 3-4 years. I have never gotten anything from my apricot, peach, cherry, and plum trees. I have some pretty good asparagus beds that produce well, and I just planted Jerusalem artichokes this year that I am told will be like a perennial because it is nearly impossible to harvest all of the tubers. If anyone has advice on other things I should try, I would appreciate it.

    • My 10-year-old thinks fruit growing is a MUCH better business idea than vegetables. Seriously though, we would eventually like to try your idea in Zone 6 Ontario, Canada.

      Today’s episode is the skeleton for a textbook with design DVD. Would easily retail for $30 in paperback. Nice add-on for the forthcoming propagation course?

    • I’m at the bottom of Zone 5, approaching Zone 4. I too am in a valley which traps the cold air (actually, that’s a good thing). I can tell you what has worked for me. With planning, I think all of these will work for you as well.

      Regarding Apples and peaches (apricots, pears, plums & quince), shovel snow around the trunks in the winter so you have ice pack in the spring. Keeps the roots dormant and forces later flowering. That means you’re less likely to drop all the flowers or starting fruit with a late chill in the spring. The mistake everyone makes is fighting the cold. Use the environment to your advantage where you can, it’s easier than trying to change it.

      • Eleagnus
      • Seaberry
      • Currants (red, white, pink and black… All amazingly different flavors)
      • Gooseberries
      • Strawberries
      • Nannyberry
      • High-Bush Cranberries (actually a viburnum similar to nannyberry)
      • True cranberries
      • Rhubarb
      • Jostaberry
      • Nanking Cherry (more productive than traditional cherries, easier to net for birds.
      • Serviceberry
      • Goji Berry
      • Blueberry
      • Honeyberry
      • Fruiting Cornus (edible dogwood )
      • Prickly Pear (yes, believe it or not, some are extremely hardy)
      • Quince
      • Walnuts
      • Hazelnuts
      • Raspberry
      • Black Berry
      • Mulberry
      • Chestnuts
      • Hickory Nut
      • Sugar Maple
      • Birch (for birch beer)
      • Mayhaw
      • Sasafrass
      • Figs (needs to be covered in winter)
      • Bamboo Shoots (phyllostachys Varieties)
      • Sunchokes
      • Asparagus
      • Horseraddish
      • Elderberry

      Perenial Herbs
      Oragano, Thyme, Sage, Winter Savory, Chives, Water Cress, Sorrel, borage, rosa ragusa, Hops, dozens of mint types (spearmint, peppermint, watermint, Moranda, lemon balm, catmint, etc…)

      St. Johns Wort, Mugwort, Valarian, meadowsweet, Ecenacea, horehound, comfrey (Russian and standard), houndstounge, thistle, burdock, plantain, wormwood.

      There are thousands more, this is only my 3rd year on this property so I have only tried these. All of these plants have had respectable yields for me.

      • Exactly it makes me want to smack people some times to here “my climate’s too cold”. Everything thinks Texas is easy because it is the south. So man of those things also do well here and many I am trying so hard to make work. Imagine nothing as cold as you get but a few days (with no snow cover by the way) of oh I don’t know sub 25 for the high, lows of 8-14 degrees. Now put one or two of those in March and precede them but a few weeks of gentle rains and temps in the 70s.

        Yea that is nice just as you are about to hit the solstice and everything is screaming SPRING IS HERE! Temps go sub 20 for 2 days and just to kick your sack strait in they toss a bit of ice on top, by the way lets pretend the same exact patter occurred in February. Oh wait I don’t have to pretend that is my life! LOL

        Seriously then by May we usually hit 100 a few times (not this year only 99) but don’t think you can’t get a frost in April, we got two this year. June will be high 90s to 100s with one big rain event and the rest dry as the Mojave most years (like this one). July will come and 100s usually rule the day until September. Some years during that 90 days there is less than a half inch of rain, in good years you gut some each month, we MIGHT get that this year it is actually looking “good” but still brutal.

        Toss in biblical grasshoppers that are getting big enough to fight off young chickens (saw two physically escape yesterday until my boot evened the odds) and that is good old “easy” Texas.

        Seattle and Dallas are both in the same USDA zone and that alone shows why one should not really bank on zones alone. One could make the case that Seattle has actually milder winters (though more snow) then us and they would not be wrong. They certainly have more rain and milder summers.

        The truth is Texas is Desert to Tropic Climate in Summer and Cold Temperate in Winter. This makes a lot of things hard because many temperate climate plants suffer and die in our summers and many desert plants and almost all sub tropic and tropic plants will die in our winters. Much of what will survive won’t produce well.

        And I love it, it is a challenge but as you build an ecosystem you find micro climates, you get plants established and things start clicking.

        I had people recently asking me about my really sick looking trees, I said they made me very happy though not happy in the wallet for the loss. When asked why I said look at many of the same species booming or at lest doing very well. Those plants will be fine in fall, they will really hit a final growth spurt in our long season of mild fall weather, they will go dormant and blow the hell up next year. I will replace the sick and dying in fall, add in a bunch of legume trees in spring and I don’t care if they die by the hundreds, they are supposed to. Those dying trees show me that what I am doing works because of how many are living in the same basic conditions.

        • I know what you mean. I previously lived in Arizona, Zone 10 in the valleys, Zone 9 everywhere around. But that’s 0% humidity, so there’s nothing to keep the warmth in. You could drop 50°F in the course of a night, and be well below freezing in the winters with no snow to insulate.

          You’re comparison of Seattle and Dallas is dead on. You get more warmth, but they have the pacific ocean as a thermal mass, and the humidity to keep the heat in.

          The Zone maps are horrible. People get hung up on them. A loose, rich soil with heavy mulch will insulate and an exposed wet clay soil will chill. The actual effect in temperature averages from soil type is nearly a zone and a half. Proximity to water can make just as much of a difference.

          They also neglect to account for predictable long-term climate events. They use averages rather than periodic deviations to come up with the Zone classification. So that once in 10 year ice storm, or 5 consecutive drought years every 50 years… Not accounted for and everyone working by the Zone map ends up losing half of their plants. It was designed with annual crops in mind, not perennials.

          I find anyone can swing +/- one zone pretty easily. It’s possible to swing 2 zones with good planning. 3 Zones is where I hit the wall.

          I can’t quite get Citrus, Bananas, or Dragon Fruit to grow in my area year-round out side. But those are the only common things I’ve really been able to scratch off the list. Oddly, I’m getting ticked off at my lack of inability to grow things, lol. That would be my justification for buying a large green house, but that’s a lot of oranges and bananas to offset that cost.

          But even that doesn’t stop me from trying. I had an lemon tree for 3 years outside before it got frost killed. That’s long enough to cross pollinate and fruit. Eventually one of the resulting seeds will be hardier. It’s insanely expensive, but a fun hobby, and the reward is coming up with a new variety everyone in this area will benefit from.

          I’ve already had some success extending the hardiness of several herbs which by all accounts shouldn’t grow here. So far Rosemary and Summer Savory look like they’ll be Zone 5 hardy in a few years, and possibly (I hope) to zone 4, though that’s really pushing it. Herbs are easy though, one-two years gets you thousands of seeds. Trees take a lifetime or more to toughen up.

          It’s those efforts which give us the variety of plants we enjoy today. If a plant if perfectly adapted to it’s environment, it doesn’t evolve. All those little mutations that may arise, giving a plant different attributes, end up dying off. There is no advantage offered by their differences over their much more numerous and homogeneous cousins. When pushed to the limits of survival however, some of those variations will be capitalized on as the plants spread and form a colony of an entirely new variety.

          Any time someone says “That plant will die here”, view it as an opportunity. An opportunity with a price, and a higher probability of failure, but still a chance to do something no one else has done before.

      • Wow – thank you, @William, for that list and the snow packing tip! I knew planting trees in Fall is best for root growth in the Spring, but I would have never thought to pack the snow around the roots to delay flowering. It makes perfect sense though. I know quite a few farmers that got burned by early frosts 2 years ago and this would have saved their harvests.

        I also agree about working with instead of fighting against the cold. Part of what makes certain plants enjoyable is the cold – carrots and greens get sweeter with cold and frosts. Also, the cold helps to kill pests and weeds that may have got out of control in the summer. I couldn’t imagine living somewhere without snow…but, ask me again when I’m 60 and I’ll probably say the opposite 🙂

        Seriously, I learn just as much from the comments on the TSP blog as I do listening to the podcast!

  3. Jack. Just emailed you about the idea at the end of today’s show. I’m in Mckinney and would be very interested.

  4. Jack,
    I think you might have mentioned it before, the Growasis Waterboxx (, somewhat similar to the IrriPan. Of course, they’re much more expensive, but they hold water and meter it out over time. Seems to really boost tree survival rates.

    I’ve wanted to buy some, just never got around to it. I think it would help my trees in my dry, cold & hot, windy climate.

    • They are cool no doubt but I seem them as cost prohibitive. Likely this is mostly due to manufacture in the UK with no real US distribution. The pound is too powerful against the dollar to make the US an effective export market for the UK. I can get 1000 irripans for 4K, that is reasonable for a large install.

      The Growasis is 50 bucks as a one off, the best pricing domestically I can seem to find would cost me 29,000 dollars for a quantity of 1000 or 2900 for just 100 of them. It just doesn’t work out numbers wise. It is too bad really, it seems to me there is no reason these shouldn’t be doable with the right manufacturing for say about 10 bucks a unit. At 1K per hundred they would be viable for many situations.

      Growasis is a perfect example of a company this is failing because they are trying to “save the world” vs. serve a market.

      • Yeah, I think their major customers are municipalities / countries who use gubbmint money. So buying 10K waterboxxes is not a big deal, and they have no incentive to lower the price for retail customers.

        But yeah, as you said, they’re trying to save the planet. Though they show cool progress in reforestation, most of their videos talk about climate change/global warming and CO2. Bah!

      • great show today Jack, really enjoyed it…plan on something like this with more perennials for our 1.2 acre place we’ll be moving to next week.

        I agree with the high cost of the Groasis, I’ve got 20 of them planted with a variety of trees out in some remote property in E.WA. It’s high desert over 3k Ft high, zone 5B, less than 14″ rainfall a year and thats mostly snow. This is my 4th year using them and I’ve had a 80% survival rate on using 2 or 3 seedlings per container, with only one box failing due to an elk or mule deer stepping into it and breaking the top.

        I plant in the fall and pull them up the next year, my first 10 boxes I put 2 seedlings in each, 3 years after planting 13 of the 20 seedlings are still alive….really rough environment…I’m really interested in using those new ones you mentioned.

        • The Waterboxx is likely best for your needs. The irripan makes irrigation far more effective but will likely not eliminate the need especially in your environment. I see the Waterboxx the way Steven Harris sees solar panels when he says, “the only thing more expensive than solar electricity is no electricity”.

  5. started this already this summer…emphasizing a lot of native shrubby fruits as well as more traditional fruit so as to maximize the possibility of survival with the least worry. Planted almost 100 plants of various varieties this summer, heavy on seabuckthorn and hazelnuts and I have several dozen honeyberry started from seed which I’m trying to figure out if I should plant out now or keep over the winter. There would have been more but wasn’t sure if this would work the seeds are tiny. I have seed for possibly 200 or so more to start for next year. The hazelnuts were also started from seed as they are hybrid, we have local hazels here but they are very small, so hoping these will be equally hardy with a better sized nut.

    The plants fruit consecutively from June through to (possibly) late fall although admittedly the bulk will be in the July/August. Starting out with honeyberry and strawberries through saskatoons and aronia on through with sour cherry, elderberries and seabuckthorn to hazelnuts, butternuts and possibly chestnuts.

    Next year I will be adding a whole lot of honey locust trees started from seed as well as expanding the fruit trees and adding hawthorn ..can only do so much each year. The locust will also provide a fuel wood possibly as a cash crop (if I can find someone who wants to do the work on a share sort of arrangement, I couldn’t do it, and in the meantime it’s providing fuel for me AND adding to soil fertility.)

    This turned out to be a response to my mobility issues which makes standard market gardens out of the question as well as these plants will deal with this somewhat yucky sandy soil much better with less input than veggies will.

    I’ve been thinking about the possibility of raising a very few cattle sheep and pigs on a sort of CSA system so that I don’t have to hold them over winter. People buy (or get me to buy) an animal for themselves and I care for it for a minimal cost and raise it through the summer. That gets me the value that animals can offer on the land with the minimal cost.

    I’ve also got plans for chickens, considering ducks and possibly geese but those two last would be for home use primarilly.

    Chestnuts are an experiment…we can’t grow the same range of plants you can and chestnuts may not survive, or even if they do may not yield nuts as our season is so short, but even if they only survive and don’t give a nut crop, the trees themselves are valuable for coppicing or at timber. Although they aren’t native to the area, deer took a bunch out and ate them the very first day they were planted.

    Also managed finally to get three comfrey plants to grow from seed and those will go into the field and hoping they will indeed get to be thoroughly invasive as I’ve got plans for them. BTW did you know there is a native plant of a totally different species also known as comfrey which was used by the native Americans pretty much the same way that what we are calling comfrey, which comes from Europe?

    I have a couple of questions though..if the variety of a plant are hybrids from two different patented varieties are they still subject to patent? What happens if the plants you’ve grown come from frozen berries so you really don’t even know what the story was behind the seed, such as if blueberries were started from a frozen bag of blueberries from the market?

    • What is your zone, Mark Shepard is growing chestnuts very profitably and I believe he is in zone 4. He is in Wisconsin where he was told chestnuts simply don’t grow.

      • Diego of Permaculture Voices just did a two part podcast on Chestnuts with an expert. Pretty interesting and worth listening to.

      • I can confirm, chestnuts work fine in Zone 4.
        It’s the difference between the nursery listed zone hardiness, and the actual hardiness. Nurseries that warranty their plants like to pad the hardiness zones a bit to reduce their costs. And with online nurseries, they copy and paste plant info from other nursery sites all the time. You’re local nursery will see all those claims (really from the same source everyone else copied) and assume it’s true, so they don’t order any in. I was told “Chestnuts don’t grow here” at a garden center that had a huge chestnut tree growing right across the street from them in some guy’s front yard.

        The real Zone 4 killer of Chestnuts are deer. Longer winters means hungrier deer, more willing to eat a small tree to the ground. A little warmer and they would simply browse the tips, avoiding the woody parts. When they’re hungry, they’ll uproot saplings and eat every bit of it. You absolutely must block their access to the tree for at least the first 3-4 years.

    • To my knowledge planting any fruit or nut from seed is not subject to patent. It isn’t like annuals which are planted from seed to begin with. When you are dealing with trees the industry simply isn’t concerned with seeds because that isn’t how they operate.

    • Found Mark’s farms zipcode and he is in USDA Zone 4B so unless you are colder than that it can be done.

    • Just one thing to note about the chestnuts that I remembered from a Mark Shepard talk I went to last month. Don’t quote me specifically on all this because I don’t remember EXACTLY what he said…

      Mark explained that there are two different kinds and the one that he is growing is the Chinese chestnut. He also explained that to get hardy chestnuts he planted a ton of them in the beginning since he had so many people telling him it couldn’t be done. He knew it could be done though given that Wisconsin used to be oak savanna (and chestnuts somehow relate to that, but I forget how). Then, the trees that flowered first were the ones he used to propagate. Over time, he was able to create a chestnut that bloomed real early and fruited early.

      So, you may be able to grow chestnuts in zones that it can’t be done, but it might take you some time to localize the species to your environment.

      • I’d imagine he has mostly the Castanea mollisima (CHINESE) genetics rated hardy to 4a as the American C. dentata is so hammered by the human introduction of chestnut blight fungus and still very limited availability of the resistant American hybrids. There are several other species across Eurasia and provenance is important even within a given species for hardiness. Oak and chestnut are members of the Fagaceae family and both are promiscuous hybridizers. I’m working with C. henryi for the opposite heat hardiness in Texas. Near extinction of American
        chestnut should speak to the importance of mixed diverse polycultures more than exclusively perennials as a
        generic study of ecology makes obvious.
        family and very promiscuous

        American/Chinese hybrids. There are several other species distributed across

        • Now you laugh at my post because
          proofreading it now I see the last couple of lines are junk words I didn’t know got pushed down and don’t sound so great. Sorry : (

  6. Now I still just need to find someone or family who wants to be part of all of this.. this is MUCH harder than I thought, to find people. In the wrong area, in Sasatchewan. If sometime you want to get something going for PermaEthos in Canada, there’s an 80 acres chunk in Canada…the problem is that I do not have housing for anyone else. This summer, putting a tiny house and (hopefully) a greenhouse on the place for’s a small start, anyway.

    • Hi Pam,
      I am in AB not SK but your comments are great and somewhat relate to what I want to do. I want to start a little nursery with mostly nut trees and medicinal herbs. And thinking about expanding into selling nuts and herbs. Adding livestock later and go from there.
      I am thinking we are in the same zone and could share some experiences.
      Are you interested in talking?

  7. Persimmons are another late season fruit. Depending on climate, they can be harvested very late in the year. I have gotten American persimmons in Iowa in November. And they are delicious.

    • That is a GREAT one to add, I guess I subconsciously left it out since mine all died or more accurately never even budded out this year and it made me “grumpy”. Replacing them in the fall!

  8. To ‘fill in’ harvest gaps.. how about nut butters, jams, jellies and syrups?

    Extra work, but a truly premium model. Farm canned fruit? I’d pay a real premium.

    Mentioned briefly.. fresh herbs are an easy to grow premium product.

    And then of course there are all of the non-supermarket friendly things that can be offered (fruits and vegetables that don’t travel well and have a shorter shelf life).

    Also.. premium products for specific ethnic groups. I have an Iraqi neighbor who was showing me a salad green that is a WEED here, that I didn’t even know was edible. The only time she’s seen it in a store, it cost $16/lb. and according to her, her community LOVES and misses it (a ‘taste of childhood’ sort of thing).

    How about perennial medicinals? Technically maybe not in the ‘market garden’ category.. but I know of many healers that are looking for barks, roots, leaves etc. that DON’T come from China.. for purity and efficacy reasons (known age).

    • Holiday decorative objects (corn husks, small squashes, etc.)

      Edible and non-edible flowers

      Some of these would be perennial.. and some not. Flowering fruit and nut branches sell for quite a bit and farmers and floral markets. Profitable pruning trimmings..

    • As others said in some places that is fine in others you are dealing with the “Department of Making you Sad” and need permits and other bullshit.

      The more I think about it though the more I think that such things make sense and not everything has to come from you, some can just be locally sourced. They gal who sells canned XYZ at the local markets for 5 bucks a jar is likely to be getting 2 bucks from the shop owner. She’d love to get 3 from you for 200 jars and twice a season her stuff goes into your baskets, etc. That makes the legal requirements hers.

      Technically you are not even selling food, you are selling a membership. Members get the stuff at no real cost. The book keeping, paperwork and tax filing this saves is HUGE!

  9. Though melons are annual, they grow well in an agroforestry system since they benefit from mycorrhizae and make a live mulch plus pretty easy to pop in the ground.

    • Absolutely. I also grow squash up my fruit trees. Acorn and Butternut squash do fine in an old apple tree.

  10. Thanks for the reply! My zone is either zone 3 or zone 2b depending on who you’re talking to, even “official” sites don’t really agree. Lots of wild hawthorn around here and most nurseries swear they need zone 4 or better.
    I found a chestnut breeder in Iowa who has some productive hybrid trees that have survived -40 so thought it was worth a shot.. . Chestnuts are insanely easy to start from seed, even the ones from the store at Christmas will grew over 2 feet high within 2 months of planting the nut, but those all died when we got a -20 late spring frost. They might have coped if they had had the winter behind them but as youngsters they had no chance.

    Another thought about income streams..I was asking someone about a wildflower I have in abundance on my land and after he identified it he said wistfully he has been trying to access that plant from nurseries for years and it’s never available. It’s a Hoary Puccoon, a vividly pretty wildflower which dislikes transplanting, so I’m waiting now for the seed to ripen so as to send him some to try. If someone had an abundance of wildflowers there might be a market for seed or even started plants which haven’t been soaked in poisons which kill are almost all plants bought at Lowes, Walmart and such places, and apparently many nurseries as well, I recently found out.

  11. There are issues now most places in selling any food which has been processed in any way, so people need to keep that in mind.

    Selling strawberries fresh is usually fine but as soon as you make them into jam or syrup or whatever there tends to be all sorts of restrictions slamming into place.

    I think but am not positive that it’s a federal thing in Canada, but in any case in at least the three western provinces you have to have a dedicated and inspected kitchen apart from your home kitchen if the food has been processed in any way. Certainly many States seem to have similar laws.

    It adds a whole lot of cost to what should be a simple and straightforward enterprise. Just something to keep in mind and possibly check out before plunging into full scale jams and fruit leathers and so forth.

    • In Texas we have a “cottage law” where you can use products you make in your home up to a certain dollar amount. It is a big help for a lot of small producers

      • We have the same in Illinois. The most recent cottage law that was passed opened up more things to sell at farmer’s markets. Outside of that, you need to deal with the health dept regulators. Here, in Illinois, it’s all about WHO you get to inspect your operation. I know some people selling “illegal cottage contraband” (LOL!) at farmer’s markets and it’s only because their regulator was nice enough to “overlook” it.

    • California also just passed a Cottage Law. One of the few things they got right.

    • This is true for Alberta too. Processing needs a license and regular inspections.
      I am talking to Alberta AG, they have new venture specialist on staff that give free advise on any questions.

  12. I should have added that some people get around that by making an arrangement with a small restaurant or bakery to use their facilities on off hours, but I couldn’t edit.

  13. Great show. The first time I listened straight through 3 times to completely process the ideas because they are so close to what I’ve been working on for 6 months. First let me say, unless I hit some unforeseen hurdle, I am making a forest market garden in PA. The only question is timing as for now I am still trapped in NJ.
    Second despite what you said, I think this idea is very close to the Permaculture Orchard in Quebec. His scale is slightly larger, but not extremely so as he mentions how only a portion of his orchard is setup this way. I think yours will be larger than initially posed, once you’ve run the numbers, but I will withhold any judgement until you have completed your process. In any case he has phased rows by ripening dates to create what he calls a supermarket aisle approach which I think is similar to the direction you seem to be going.
    For my attempt I will be starting by converting my mom’s 25 acre hay field into 21 silvopasture paddocks on 45′ keyline separation mixing the PO ideas with Shepard’s to add in nuts and will replace PO’s honey locusts with rotational coppiced black locusts. If cows are never integrated, or phased out, then I can later go back and split the paddocks, but I’ll build soils till then.
    I will send you more details in a separate email, but I assume you will be more than inundated with similar emails, that it may get lost in the crush.
    But know this that whatever information you release on this theme will be massively appreciated and probably integrated.

  14. Amazing as usual Jack. Talk about amazing timing of a podcast that could have been just for me. I was writing down ideas and dabbling with an idea along these lines. I would like to start a CSA but felt that a standard garden was too much work for someone with health issues. An orchard with a lot of mixed fruit and maybe some vegetables was what I was thinking about as I am looking for a new home with some land.

    Of course, you took this idea to a whole new level I never even considered. I took countless notes and will continue to see how this could work as my supplemental income as I get closer to retirement in, hopefully, 7 years. I could do exactly as you stated and start small and each year build upon the last until I was retired and in full production.

    I wanted to add my own little twist to some relationship cultivating idea and that is to have an area set aside on pick up day that members could swap out things in their basket that they do not especially care for with something they may like. For example if one member did not like pears they would leave them on the table and take plums that someone else did not want.

    An additional step I would do is to have reusable wooden boxes stamped with my brand, phone number and website. I would possibly charge a deposit so the boxes come back but it could be a good way to advertise my CSA. Along with the boxes, I would use paper to hold smaller items, again stamped with my brand.

    Since I am here in Michigan and the season would be much shorter than Texas, I would look at a couple of extra special boxes that the member could pick up in the off season. I love the idea of a box for Thanksgiving with the butternut squash/sage and could maybe throw in some nuts or dried fruits. Maybe something at Christmas time with a small variety of herbal teas.

    You have sparked some major thought processes here and I already wrote a book so better go. I am so totally in love with you right now Jack 🙂

    • Kim I am also playing with the idea and agree. I swear jack hears my thoughts sometimes. I would like to hear more of what you come up with. I am putting together a spreadsheet at the moment for costs of what this would take.

  15. Just needed to add, I would plant nut trees along with the fruit trees because they naturally seem to work well with this model.

    • As always it depends. I am planting hazles here, but can’t recommend others do so yet because no one has done it successfully to my knowledge in Texas. Pecans grow WONDERFUL here BUT, they are a huge tree, will they work on a 2 acre planting when you run numbers and see what you give up in return? IDK, haven’t run those numbers yet. I am growing some chestnuts, far as I know though no one has done so successfully in Texas. We are trying almonds, the catalogs say it should work, the reality though is there isn’t a single commercial almond grower in Texas which is a bit strange as we grow the hell out of peaches.

      So on a small holding you either have to locate your bit nut trees very strategically (think north end) or you have to make something small and compact like hazles and almonds fit in. Trust me I sure want to do it one way or another. I do have two pecans planted and likely will put in a few more but they can’t be where they will shade out my main trees and they produce juglone so I put in Paw Paw and Mullberry between them and the others trees as well to buffer the allelopathic effect.

      • Hazels will grow like crazy here in Michigan but pecans do not fair so well. Of course in a smaller market forest the nut trees would be placed as to not shade out the smaller trees and would really be more of a value added crop. Now I have an uncle in Texas who grows a crap load of pecans each year so that extra basket at Thanksgiving time may have enough pecans in it along with a recipe to make a great pie. I so love the value added ideas and am writing down idea after idea. I would want my CSA members to think about me during the long off season so would have them pick up a basket or two during the winter months as a thank you bonus of sorts.

        As for hazels, I would make some great nut butter and again a jar may find its way into a basket as well.

  16. OmG, this is exactly what i have been working on for the past four years. Planning etc for when we can afford the land. Been saving up to do it debt free. Thinking about adding a u pick to this. Also have a demonstration permaculture system for learning etc. Even have guided tours and workshops.

  17. The permaculture orchard in quebec, otherwise known as miracle farms run by Stefan Sobkowiak, is 12 acres total (I currently intern there). Four or Five acres was planted out in 2007 and 2008 in an intensive permaculture style (as in the movie)… Four or Five acres is still planted in the old apple orchard and Two acres is annual vegetables. The farm is basically a research farm and is not optimized for financial performance at this point. It pays for itself; however, it does not earn anyone a living. I believe the 4 to 5 acre permaculture section could support someone if the low performers were re-planted optimally, everything was harvested (the berries and perennial vegetables are not fully utilized) and poultry was run through the orchard’s lanes. We ran some preliminary numbers and believe that an optimal planting and use of poultry could net $20k per acre; but more work needs to be done to prove this out.

  18. Have you been reading my mind Jack?

    I’ve been looking into doing something like this, 4 acre market garden 🙂


  19. Jack, I think this concept would be awesome as a U-Pick operation. While you wouldn’t have the up front money of the CSA, you’d have your customers doing all the harvest work for you. Bring the kids out and spend a few hours picking fruit, see the chickens, etc….people love that shit. And you could still sell them all the value added products at the point of sale.

    • My idea is that is how to rid yourself of excess surplus.

      Imagine a email to all CSA members, come one come all, first come first serve. We have too many black berries this year, more than we can pick. All CSA members are invited to come pick all you want until we run out.

      • My thoughts exactly. After my regular members get their pick I may then open it up to the general market as an open Upick and sell excess by the pound.

        My long term plan though would be to let pigs get the excess and later sell off the meat. I would use a small herd of dairy goats keep down weeds and brush between and around the plantings and sell off the milk as “dog food” since raw milk cannot be sold in Mich. without its own CSA/heardshare and I don’t want to go there. Again some goats milk soap may find its way into a basket now and then.

  20. Thank you so much for doing this show! I’ve been eagerly looking forward to it since you mentioned the idea a few days ago. I’ve had this basic idea in the back of my mind as a future plan since we moved to our own place with some land last year. I already dug two swales and planted them with trees, bushes, and herbs with annuals in between, and I’m working on putting in a third swale. This year the annuals are producing enough to supplement my family’s diet as well as give some to friends, but I’m hoping that within a few years, as the trees and bushes get into good production, we can start up a CSA just like you mentioned. It was great to hear you fleshing out some of the very same ideas I had been thinking over, and I love all the creative extras and the idea about putting recipes on a blog- I had actually already started a blog to do something like that, but you gave more of an organized look at what I will need to do. I’m thinking some of the fall baskets could include things like homemade preserves, and maybe specialty items like breads featuring herbs we’ve grown as well.
    Thank you so much for all you do, and the inspiration and organization you bring to us!

    • Also, I really appreciate your idea of planting together the things that would ripen around the same time. I wish I had thought that through before planting the trees I have, but fortunately everything I have planted so far is close to the house, so I will just make better plans for the further out plantings.

  21. It’s funny that you mentioned The Market Gardener – I bought that and devoured it this weekend as well. It really made making an agricultural living on five or less acres seem possible.

    He does mention that plowing kills the soil microbes and encourages compaction. So instead he uses a flail mower to cut down old plant debris, and then turns the first two inches of soil. My question is doesn’t this still kill the soil microbes and encourage compaction, but just in the top couple inches? Isn’t this where the roots of many vegis live, and wouldn’t this greatly slow down the decomposition of your mulch into humus? What is the correct/alternative permaculture method? Would you just cut the old plant debris at soil level, and use a rake to open a 1/2″ deep channel where the next round of seeds will go? Alternatively, I was wondering if you would have to add half an inch of compost every time and plant into that? In that case, that would be a little over a cubic yard of compost for every 30″x100′ bed that he talks about. That doesn’t seem reasonable either.

    • Well, shallow tilling likely does kill some microbes in the top layers but not enough to though off the soil balance and it doesn’t compact either.

      The reason it doesn’t compact the soil is it doesn’t get deep enough to really do so. When you till you don’t compact the soil that you till, you compact the soil below where you till down to. As the blades till and loosen the soil they push down the sub soil and each time it gets worse. By only tilling very shallow the soil below never is pushed against already somewhat compacted soil.

      Think of it this way, put some dough on the floor and a pillow over the dough. Now push the pillow down until the pillow is half way reduced in width. Your dough won’t compact much, you are soft on soft. Now push it until the pillow is fully compacted, what happens to the dough against the hard floor.

      Make sense?

      • Thanks Jack, that helps a lot! Thank you for taking the time to explain that.

        Would you say Jean-Martin’s methods for annual vegi growing are good to emulate then? I was always under the impression that any tillage will result in significant damage to the soil, but that was probably not correct I see. The amount that he transplants sounds like an unbelievably huge amount of work, but I understand that he is doing that to be first to the market. I’m sure summer vegis in May fetch a significant premium over those same ones in July.

        At the moment I am working on becoming very good at growing food for myself and my extended family before trying to make a business of it, and a very small portion of my diet is fruits, but does contain huge amounts of greens. So I think a notable amount of space will always be dedicated to annual vegetables.

        What would Jack do at the end of one growing cycle to prepare that area for the next if he were to grow annual vegetables?

        • As I said I think if what you want is a market garden small farm for profit that he has the finest guide I have seen. That is contingent upon if that is what you want though.

        • As for what to do at the end of a season. 1 of 2 choices.

          Either mulch it then tarp it and just keep it covered and that prevents erosion and weed emergence.

          Or cover crop it and turn in that cover crop at planting time.

        • Thanks again Jack, I know you are a busy dude, so I really appreciate hearing your opinion on what to do.

          I did a bit of an experiment this year. I had one bed that was not mulched at all, and by the middle of June I had a complete carpet of weeds, including a bunch of aggressive strangling vines that were wrapping around my asparagus and dragging it down! The other bed had a ~4″ layer of straw on it. The mulched bed had about 95% less weeds, and a pair of scissors took care of those. This definitely made me a mulch convert instantly.

          Also thought you would find this interesting too – I am watching Mark Shepard’s talk on Youtube, and he said, “Every culture who has ever relied on annual crops has collapsed.”

  22. Great show Jack. I have started a small food forest system last fall (maybe a 1/4 acre), but had no idea to monetize it and or make it educational for the community. I just sent you an email with overhead pics in case you would like to use our property in Weston, TX.

  23. Something else which is fairly common and often used in conjunction with a upick operation is a maze, apparently a highly profitable draw for people. I have been considering a variation, a labyrinth as a sort of meditative situation as I think that fits better with trees and peacefulness. Mazes can get to be a bit frenetic. A labyrinth is unlikely to be AS popular but a lot easier to deal with and much much cheaper to establish..some in Britain have only limewashed stones to designate the paths.
    Another possibility I’ve been looking at, is using aquaponics in the greenhouse and then having a much bigger pond and stocking fish as they grow too big for the indoor tanks in the pond for people to come spend some time fishing. This can also be a very profitable possibility and there are always hatcheries around to get other fish from to stock the pond.

  24. This will have a lot of appeal as the times change! The trend is away from traditional ag. and towards locally grown food. If it is economically feasible for the farmer and the customer, it should catch on quick. Sounds GREAT!

  25. This show and the one before it capture what we’re working on here in NC–a market garden focused on tree and berry fruit augmented by such enterprises as herbs, produce, eggs, etc. We have a 1/2 acre where we’ve planted cherry trees, apple trees, muscadines, and blackberries, a tenth acre where we’ve intensively planted apple trees in what is referred to as a tall-spindle orchard system with raspberries planted in the alleys, and another tenth acre where we have blueberries. On top of that we have a smattering of chestnuts, hazelnuts, persimmons, and mulberries. Planted the first phase last year. Did the second phase this year. Plan to complete the final phase of planting next year or the year after. Some of what we’re doing involves permaculture design principles, some of it’s polyculture, and some of it’s mono-cropping on a very small scale. For the apples, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries we selected cultivars to give us a staggered harvest over an extended period of time. I’ve done the math and I think it’s possible to NET $17k to $20k from just an acre of this stuff.

  26. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I am taking Geoff Lawton’s PDC and will be taking the PermaEthos PDC, and was thinking, “Food forest is awesome, but it’s not quite what I am looking for.” I purchased the Miracle Farms video, and thought that was awesome, too, but still not quite what I wanted. Just couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted. It’s been fermenting in my brain. And then I listened to this episode on the way home from work. Bingo. Thank you! You set my foot on the path.

  27. Jack this is really cool. I have been trying to grow 90% of my fruit and veggies on a 1/7 acre lot (6,000 sq feet). I have planted about 2,000 to 2,500 square feet of actual growing space and am 3 years in, just getting nice yield from the smorgasboard of fruits and berries. I think you can combine the forest garden with the market garden at least initially. I’ve surround my trees with small wood-core berms and swales/paths. The wood is buried just below grade of swale to capture store water for trees. I can cultivate the top of the berm with things like chard, kale, butternut squash, tomatoes, lettuce, arugula, etc. and grow some cover crop at least once a year to keep things fresh. These are about 3 feet away from the tree trunks. So the trees get the hugel breakdown down deep and a deep mulched basin. But I have a 2-3 ft wide bed near the tree to cultivate annuals. My trees are about 3 years old and don’t seem to mine the annuals on the berms. Chickens are also paddock shift through to clean things up and fertilize. Like Mike Shepard, I think it would be possible to market garden in your forest garden while it gets established, so they you don’t have a time lag before you start producing. If my numbers of 2000-3000 sq feet per family of 4 hold up, 90% of fruits/veggies, that would be a pretty robust CSA. I have a diagram I could send that could illustrate the concept of what I’ve been doing.

  28. Jack, great show. I’m trying to brainstorm on a variation to this and a few other ideas.

    I don’t like to buy anything from the grocery store.

    The farmer’s markets are ok here. Quite a few of them but they don’t carry everything that I eat. (Milk, butter, beef, chicken, turkey, mulberries, etc). Some of the farmers who attend the farmers markets are bringing food down from Central California. It tastes good but really isn’t too local. I can’t always get to the Farmer’s market on the days and times offered.

    I’m not crazy about CSAs I always found that I got a lot of produce I either didn’t want, didn’t like or it wasn’t the proper quantity for my family. Plus with growing so much in my own yard, I’m not crazy about paying for what I’m already growing.

    I am growing in my yard but most of my trees were just planted last year. And I’m in a tract housing subdivision where I can’t have chickens, or other bigger animals.

    My plan is to buy as local as possible and know my farmers (know how they treat the soil, etc) or locals who have surplus in their yards.

    With 6 million people who live within an hour of me, in southern California, I’m sure there are many more people who want exactly what I do.

    What I have noticed is that there are SO MANY large old fruit trees on the properties that were built 20 or more years ago. I know there is some service that will pick and give it to charity but I see so many people who just let the fruit drop and don’t do anything with it.

    I have a new friend who has 6 acres of mature orchard who can’t figure out how to sell it all.

    I notice that I get a ton of extra chicory, lettuce, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, jelly palm fruit, herbs, etc. in my yard but it is a bit hard to give away and not because I don’t try. I just have too much and haven’t found people who want it.

    So I’m thinking of some kind of website that allows people who have too much to post their produce (along with some kind of details of how they grow stuff – their philosophy.) I think their might need to be some kind of membership involved and someone trustworthy would go check out their place to really make sure they care about the soil and plants and aren’t just trying to sell produce that they distribute.

    A few big holes in this idea at the moment that I haven’t been able to flush out. One is distribution. I personally don’t want to drive 30 min for a few items and 20 min to another place, etc. I’m sure others wouldn’t either.

    Something about this idea has stayed with me for months so I’d love someone to help flush it out.

    • Just wanted to validate your feelings on the CSAs. I try to eat as local and beyond organic as possible, but CSAs are not economical for me. I have tried to love turnips, but I just don’t like them. Last year, I gave away all my turnips in my boxes. That’s not a big deal and I love sharing the abundance, but I would really like to use all that I pay for. This year was the first in 4 years that I did not sign up for a CSA. It’s much easier for me to go to farmer’s markets where the same farmers are selling the same produce that was in my box.

      Also, the risk-sharing is not the thing I hear most people complain about with CSAs. People pretty much know how the CSA model works. The people I talk to complain about not being able to choose what is in their boxes. It’s more work for people to take a box that they don’t know what it contains and then figure out what to do with things they won’t or can’t use just so they can get their money’s worth.

      If you could have a u-pick CSA box where you have all the produce in crates/boxes and people design their own CSA box at every pickup. Of course, there’s a lot that goes into this. One of my favorite farmers from my ex-CSA group quit the CSA because membership went down (due to what I said above) and she has started a grocery shopping type of system. She emails her produce list every week to her customers and they tell her what they want.

      Lots of models, lots of choices and it all depends 🙂

      • Brooke, thanks for posting. I don’t know why but I never hear anyone discuss this aspect of CSAs. I think it is something that needs to be reworked.

        I’m with you as much as I have really tried hard to like some of the CSA foods, I just don’t. Then there is the complication of that what I do like I usually grow.

        How is the grocery shopping type of system working out for her? Has it been successful for her or a headache?

        I’ve noticed the CSAs here that I have been a part of only seem to encompass vegetables – no fruit unless it was strawberries and certainly no nuts.

        Just drives me crazy to drive around my area and see fruit on the ground or tree that you can tell isn’t getting picked and won’t be picked when people like me would love to buy it knowing that it was grown sustainably.

        • @Brooke, I spent 6 years leaving in Champaign Urbana before moving to San Diego. I remember finding Curtis Orchard (Apples) – But that was 20 years ago.

          Wow, didn’t know that the Fruit CSA had such a demand. What fruits does she grow?

          Maybe what I’m looking for is a Farmer’s market that isn’t just on Saturday morning but something that is more permanent like a grocery store but one that would vet all the farmers. Would love to see a small video run on each farmer with video of their farm, what they believe about soil, etc.

          Or maybe it is a food truck but instead they sell fresh fruits, vegetables and maybe salads.

      • @Sheri – I know what you mean about seeing the fruit on the ground. There are willing buyers for it. Same thing happens here (central Illinois). CSA boxes are focused mainly on vegetables and some common herbs and strawberries and melons. We have one farm that I know of in the entire area that does a fruit-only CSA. She is completely booked and has a waiting list of over 200 people. She said that when I get my farm going, she will give me her waiting list! I interned for this farmer last year. I think it just goes to show that people like fruit better than veggies. I also think that fruit flavors are more concentrated and pronounced from a local farm. A store raspberry and a farm fresh raspberry are so completely different in flavor. It’s a little harder to tell the same difference between store spinach and farm fresh spinach. I remember trying this fruit-CSA farm’s kiwis. Wow – so much better than the store!!!

        I have NEVER seen fresh, local nuts being sold around here. It’s a shame because we have a ton of black walnut everywhere. We have some butternut trees around here too, but apparently those go bad quickly. Still…the quicker they go bad, the more reason to sell them in the local market.

        The lady who quit the CSA model and does the grocery shopping list seems to be doing OK. She isn’t completely serious about her farm business since it’s a retirement “business” to her. She doesn’t have a ton of interest in building up her brand and selling to lots of people. She mainly does it for herself. That being said, she had enough customers to break free from the CSA group so there had to have been enough demand for her to do it. Personally, I still don’t like that model only because I’m rarely organized enough to have my meal plan for the week ready at the same time the produce orders need to be in. It gets difficult coordinating everything and if you miss her order time, you have to wait a whole week for the next order time. But, that’s also me making excuses. I guess I could change things around and get more organized, but it’s so much easier to just go to the farmer’s market with my list and get what I need from a bunch of different farmers.

      • Well sounds like a case for MY type of CSA, very few people that like fruits at all truly dislike any fruit. I am with you on turnips!

  29. Just saw the Agritrue flyers and saw the video. So at least that part is done.

    I still need to figure out distribution of connecting with all the local farmers I want to buy from. (since I doubt I’ll want to drive to them) and I’m sure others feel the same.


  30. Someone mentioned Plantskyd on the listener feedback show. I have used it for several years and can recommend it. It will hold up in winter pretty well and is used by a large garden center owner here in Ohio, Pettiti ‘s. I have also used my own recipe to great results. it has egg and milk so it holds up to weather for at least 4 weeks. That is as follows: put 2 eggs and a cup of water on the counter for about 4 days. we want the eggs to start to break down. after 4 days add 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and enough water to make a quart. Mix, pour though a sieve and use a good hand sprayer bottle. It’s cheap and the egg and milk combination helps keep all my hostas and daylilies safe. As plants grow and new buds emerge, respray. this can help market gardeners keep the deer away. Plantskyd has granules for small animals.

  31. Jack, I just emailed you about the opportunity at the end of this podcast. We’re moving to a rural property near Scurry, TX in early August and it has great potential for a Forest Market Garden.

  32. Jack,

    Add in another potential market gardener north of you. Just emailed you as well. A group session may be an idea. Thanks for everything.


  33. I studied the French revolution many years ago and forget many details. It may have similarities with the American revolution, but in many other ways it was very different. My impression was that the French revolution was an example of militant left wing radicals in the western world. We are often given the impression that radicals are right wingers and that left wingers are not capable of violence in the west (leaving out radicals in communist countries or the third world), but the French revolution seems to be an example of violence by left wing radicals in the west. It also seems very likely masonic movement against the catholic church occurred during the French revolution and may be one reason the Vatican is at odds with masons which some people don’t understand apparently from a recent listen to Free Talk Live.

    At any rate, it was a complex revoultion and may have led to the rise of Napolean as well ?

    The Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794), also known simply as The Terror (French: la Terreur), was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of “enemies of the revolution”. The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands, with 16,594 executed by guillotine (2,639 in Paris),[2] and another 25,000 in summary executions across France.”

    • The most violent and mass murdering radicals of all time were leftists. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and it just goes on. The leftists like to point to Hitler and try to make him the example of right wing gone to the extreme.

      Well there are some self proclaimed right wingers that adapt the racism of the Nazi party in modern times. That doesn’t make racism right wing and it doesn’t make Hitler right wing either.

      It is always fun to watch the face of a dyed in the wool liberal as you explain that Nazi equals “National Socialism”. Hitler was a leftist! Fascism as I keep saying is NOT a political system, it is a socioeconomic system. In other words the way by which the economy is managed to control the masses. One can use classic fascism or modern neo-fascism from either the left or the right politically.

      The left thinks that liberalism in and of itself, the simple act of being on the left gives one the moral high ground with race, it doesn’t and history has shown that it never has. Convincing the world that Hitler wasn’t a socialist was a huge victory for the left. But really you don’t think Mao and Pol Pot were racists?

      • I did hear recently that national socialism was an attempt to pull workers away from communism by giving them something socialist but not as far left as communism. There are some videos out there that seem to try to say that part of the appeal of Nazis was that it stood against communism and since Germany had such a bad economy after WW I there was a danger of communism just as there was during the great depression.

        But yes, I recall when I looked into the French revolution I was greatly struck by the violence committed by what seemed to be left wing liberals

        On another note, while I am thinking of it Webster Tarply and others have said that the tide in WW II turned at the battle of Stalingrad and not at Normandy

  34. Greetings Jack,
    I am 2 hours south of your place. I have two properties, 4 acre homestead, 5 acres untouched by me. The 5 has a stock tank, and covered with “regrowth” forest. It is on a slight grade (not steep), good for swales. The property is at the end of a dead end street and roughly square (500′ x 450′). Any interest?