A grouping of plants planted intentionally together, growing and working harmoniously to ensure health and productivity, recreating a natural ecosystem.
Guilds in the Forest Garden:
A large reason farmers in the Forest Garden Program will design and develop guilds is to increase the resilience of their household and land.
An example of a Forest Garden guild would be a grouping of an anchor fruit tree that is planted with a groundcover plant that reduces weed pressure, a nitrogen fixer that provides fertilizer, and a plant that attracts pollinators or deters insect pests. There is no one set of guild groupings but the idea is to try to group plants that might play different roles in relation to each other, thereby maximizing potential benefit beyond just encouraging diversity in the Forest Garden.
Potential Components of a Guild:
Feeders – plants that provide food (and money), e.g. fruits, vegetables, grains, and timber.
Fertilizers – legumes that fix nitrogen into the soil.
Miners – deep rooted plants or tubers that open the soil and bring up nutrients from the deep in the subsoil, releasing them as organic matter in the leaf litter.
Climbers – to take advantage of vertical space by growing up rather than out.
Supporters – plants that provide support for the climbers.
Groundcover – shallow-rooted, surface-level plants that cover the ground and shade and protect the soil, hold moisture, and retain weeds.
Pollinators -- beneficial insects that help carry pollen from the stigma of plants to the stamen to enable fertilization so that plants can produce fruits, seeds, and young plants.
Protectors – plants that protect your site and the crops within, e.g. insectary plants, aromatic pest confusers, and green walls.