- The Plate
How to Farm a Forest—and Feed a Neighborhood
A forest garden helps prove the theory that fertile, well-maintained understories can produce as many calories per acre as a field of wheat.
The dollop of acorn gel with fermented sweet potato greens looked like sustenance from an episode of Survivor when a volunteer first offered it to me, plated on a single shiso leaf. It tasted like salted almond butter, albeit on an unconventional vessel—and served in an unconventional place.
I had just entered a “forest garden,” according to the wooden letters woven into the gate of a towering deer fence. Though I didn’t have to forage or grow the ingredients for what was billed that evening as a food forest feast, it was clear that someone had.
What looks from a distance like an overgrown field in an otherwise suburban enclave of Bowie, Maryland, is, in fact, a carefully managed young forest, teeming