What is a Plant Guild?
Technically speaking, a plant guild is “a beneficial grouping of plants that support one another in all their many functions,” and “support animals and humans for all their food, medicine, and utility needs.”
Ok, but…what exactly does that mean and, more importantly, how do you create a guild that is right for your food forest or permaculture project?
Enter three plant experts and permaculture designers, Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, and Bryce Ruddock, who have it all figured out and are in the mood to share.
“Each niche, yard, lot, or field has a long list of potential plants that will thrive there, and it is our task to define them, and design an ecosystem to support our and nature’s abundance,” write the authors.
Their book, Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems is the first of its kind and will be of immeasurable benefit to permaculturalists of all abilities for years to come. A comprehensive book about plant guilds that answers specific questions like how to actually configure a guild, how to select the plants, what function each plant serves, and more.
Called “a rich feast of nature love” by Peter Bane (publisher, Permaculture Activist), Integrated Forest Gardening benefits readers of any scale. Whether you are a permaculture designer and professional grower, or backyard gardener completely new to the concept of permaculture, you’ll find a wealth of information along with extensive color photography and design illustrations in this detailed guide to developing what is most basic to any permaculture system—plant guilds. Read Chapter 1 in the excerpt below.
Award-winning author Toby Hemenway believes, “Integrated Forest Gardening fills a major gap in the canon of permaculture books.”
“No longer is this subject mysterious and daunting,” writes Hemenway. “In this book we now have specific instructions for designing and installing multispecies plant groups. Chapter 7, which describes fifteen guilds and their plant members, is a golden nugget worth the price of the book alone.”
The idea of being able to take this book and replicate its principles in one’s own community, whether that be on a rural farm, or in a town or city, is exactly what the authors envisioned when they set out to write it. Their hope for this book is to cause a ripple effect, encouraging more people to embrace the vast potential of our plant world.
“Plant guilds are not limited to a few simple functions. You have ample opportunity to design and develop diverse guilds that focus on specific modalities: animal foods, oils, fibers, medicines, spices, endlessly. You might embed yield functions in a broad services guild, or you can design based on a particular theme that meets basic needs. Experiment, explore, ask yourself, What do I need for my family’s sustenance? Proceed from here.”
For more from the authors, check out their permaculture month where they answered questions submitted by readers. Learn about water harvesting ditches known as swales, the research behind plant guilds, and notes on implementing plant guilds based on differing water requirements:
What if farms and food production were integrated into every aspect of urban living—from special assessments to create new farms and food businesses to teaching people how to grow fruits and vegetables so farmers can focus on staple crops. Urban farming is a story of recovery, of land and food, of people, and of the…Read More
Humans are extremely resilient beings. We have the capability to create wondrous things out of seemingly nothing and continuously reinvent ourselves. However, when the world is against us, it may seem impossible to accomplish our goals. Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, wanted nothing more than to be able to provide nourishing food for…Read More
As the last of the leaves fall from the trees, the time has come for countless hours of raking and hauling before the first snowflake falls. While this may be a nuisance for some, for Will Bonsall, this time of year is his “mulching bonanza.” Though the conventional wisdom about tree leaves is that they…Read More
Worms aren’t just the squiggly, pink creatures found on the sidewalk after it rains. They are so much more than that. These highly regarded specimens play a vital role in enhancing our soils and revitalizing the health of the plants we need to survive. But how do we get them to work their magic? Through…Read More
If you’ve ever wondered what your life is missing, the answer is probably chickens. These feathery friends can help fertilize your soil, mow your lawn, and even lay the eggs you eat for breakfast. What could be better than that? To celebrate our favorite member of the poultry flock we’ve rounded up some wisdom and…Read More