Permaculture Food Forest: First Guild

One year ago, on June 1st 2013, the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden open for the first time.

It feels fitting in the growth of this space that on June 1st this year we planted the first guild in the permaculture food forest. A year ago there was nothing but bare soil now we are a flourishing community planting the seeds for harvests in years to come.

OKCG May 2013 OKCG_May_2014.jpg
             May 2013                                                     May 2014
                                     (Look real close to see the seedling and transplants ready to grow!

The permaculture food forest is an exciting piece of our vision. Oh, what is a permaculture food forest you say? Glad you asked.

At the Introduction to Permaculture Workshop at OKCG we learned that...

Permaculture, a term coined by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, stands for "Permanent Agriculture" and is a philosophy which uses natural systems and ecologies to grow an abundance of food.

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollison

Permaculture is gaining interest as an alternative to our current agricultural model which depletes our soils, poisons our water with pesticides, and produces food with less nutrients.  

The Three Ethics in Permaculture are:

Care for the Earth, Care for the People, and Share the Abundance


Here are the 12 principles as described by David Holmgren.


The Ohana Kuleana Community Garden was designed by Frank LeBeau using permaculture principals.


The design makes good use of water, soil, and sun. Natural water catchment systems are place so as not to lose any of the precious resource that we so badly need in our dry environment. All of the pathways are built on contour to be swales, shallow, level trenches that allow the water to stop moving down stream and sink into the soil where the plants can use it.

We also learned about the importance of building healthy soil and started some sheet composting. With the right amount of moisture we should have some great soil in a few months!

An exciting part of the design is the permaculture food forest that will surround the garden. The food forest is designed with guilds that center around different fruit trees.

A Food Forest is a self-supporting system with several layers that mimics a forest ecosystem but is largely made up of edible trees, shrubs, and plants. Yum!


A guild is a group of plants that serve different functions (e.g. nitrogen fixers, nutrient accumulators, insectary plants, etc) and when planted together create a mutually beneficial arrangement allowing them all to flourish.

This ties into another permaculture idea called stacking functions which means you try to get many yields (outputs) out of everything in your system.

For example, we planted Chammomile in our guild because it 1) is a nitrogen fixer so it puts nitrogen into a usable form for the plants, 2) it's flowers can be dried for a sleepy time tea, 3) it is a nutrient accumulator of Manganese and Potassium (two elements plants need to grow), and it also is quite pretty. You can see how the plant is serving multiple purposes.


Here is the plant list for our Cherry Guild:
     Bing Cherry Trees
Nitrogfen Fixers:   
      Dutch white clover
      Siberian pea shrub 
      Blue false indigo
Dynamic accumulators:   
      Rocky Mountain Penstemon pinifolius
      Bee Balm (Monarda Fistulosa and Monarda)


We finished off our workshop with a raw, wild, vegan lunch from Turtle Lake Refuge. Founder Katrina Blair lead us in a song of thanks and described the details of our delicious lunch before inviting us to dive in! Lunch included Hawthorn berry lemonade, local wild salad with Sundried-tomato dressing, avocado sunflower Ginger Nori Rolls, Banana Crème Pie and Raw Cacao date balls!

Lunch_cirlce.jpg Turtle_Lake_Lunch.jpg

Permaculture is a complex topic which we have only touched the surface of here.
If you are interested in learning more please check out these resources.


Tree Utahguild guide 

Midwest Permaculture

Southwest Seed Library –lots of resources on seed saving and growing

Intro to Permaculture Workshop Handouts 6.1.14


"Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains, A guide to high altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens"  by Lisa Reyner

"Permaculture, Principles and Pathways" by David Holmgren

"Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture" by Toby Hemenway

Permaculture Activist Magazine


Thanks to our wonderful presenters!

Frank LeBeau

Monea Monroe


Frank LeBeau is a lifelong organic gardener, graduate of Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado, and is a certified Colorado Master Gardener. Frank incorporates Biological, Biodynamic, French Intensive and Permaculture practices in his gardening in order to grow high yields of nutrient dense crops. He designed the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden using permaculture ideas.

Monea Monroe is a certified permaculture teacher, took the advanced design course with Peter Bane, and teacher training with Scott Pittman.  She was on the design team for the Colorado Permaculture Guild, started the Southwest Seed library and is currently co-teaching the Permaculture Design Course. She is also working on bringing the Colorado Permaculture Convergence to our area in Spring 2015.

We got our plants from Durango Nursery & Supply and a few from the wild or from other gardens or farms





Thanks Sarah at DNS for your help with the plants!
(Their staff there is great!)




And thanks to the workshop participants who helped to plant our first guild!!! Woohoo! Great job (we hope you will come visit), we will be enjoying the benefits for years to come!



Do you incorporate any permaculture ideas into your growing systems?
Have any exciting projects you can't wait to try?
We would love to





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