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In the small town of Riverton at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island is Robert and Robyn Guyton’s amazing 23-year-old food forest. The 2-acre property has been transformed from a neglected piece of land into a thriving ecosystem of native and exotic trees where birds and insects live in abundance. Robert and Robyn are a huge inspiration to us, not only for their beautiful approach to healing the land and saving heritage trees and seeds, but for the way they’ve impacted on their local community.

They’ve operated an environment centre in their town for over 20 years, where the community comes together to learn and discuss, buy produce and sit by the warm fire over a cuppa. We’ve even heard of folk who’ve up and moved to Riverton because they’re so inspired by the Guytons!

Read more about life at the Guyton’s place on Robert’s blog.

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  • There is great joy to be found in taking a degraded place and working with nature to return the biodiversity that creates a healthy ecosystem.
  • A degraded creek if left alone to regenerate naturally can become a flowing healthy stream with fish living and breeding in it.
  • As a forest gardener you learn that you’re a bit-player, with a responsibility to learn how it all works by stepping back and watching the processes.
  • Your diet might change – according to the climate you’re in, you’ll begin to eat plants that thrive in your region, perhaps including health-giving plants you once thought of as weeds.
  • The forest garden provides habitat for birds and insects, providing pest management in the garden.
  • Rowed gardens require a huge amount of work, while interfering as little as possible creates greater biodiversity and means much less physical labour for the gardener.
  • “We are not separate from the wild world, we are as wild as it is.”
Food forest
Food forest understory

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  • Cassandra Perry says:

    I am trying to learn about growing things and creating a wild garden habitat. The space I have to work with has a lot of ivy growing in it and virginia creeper. Do you have any suggestions for how to manage such invasive species while allowing them to remain wild? Would you consider simply removing the plants altogether? I admit this is what I had attempted before watching this video. Many snails lived in the ivy and destroyed a few of my plants earlier this year and recently rats began finding refuge there. I like the idea of allowing the animals to do their thing. I or my room mates my draw the line at having rats foraging around near our house though. I’m still learning. Any suggestions?

  • Stan says:

    Amazing.. thank you!

  • Simone Lienert says:

    Loved the forest garden

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