23-Year-Old Permaculture Food Forest


Happen Films, based out of Australia, creates captivating documentaries (short & long) about sustainability, tiny houses, natural building, and more.

“My hope is that the films I make inspire, inform, and help us all navigate the transition from our current destructive industrial society to a new way of being.”


Deep thoughts such as – how am I participating in the “destructive industrial society” or more so – how am I NOT? – are currently plaguing my mind.

Above is a 20 minute short documentary on Robert and Robyn Guyton’s permaculture food forest in the small town of Riverton at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. In this inspiring and uplifting film they share their story and experience of transforming a two-acre piece of property into a present-day prosperous food forest.


A food forest is a primitive type of planting which encompasses 7 different layers or levels, which are seen below.


My first question as I am sure is many of yours is – Can I even grow a forest in my environment/climate? The answer is yes. It may not be easy, but it’s possible (with a capital P)! Which makes sense to me actually – I guess in Kentucky we would just grow different things than perhaps they would in California.

The Permaculture Apprentice has a somewhat short article on Creating a Food Forest, which in closing then recommends you do more reading. So, that’s encouraging. *Insert sarcasm*

I found a lot of truth in the article “Lessons from an Urban Back Yard Food Forest Experiment” in which the author, Angelo Eliades states,

“In conclusion, I can only say that it’s only by daring to try something new and different that you get the opportunity to really achieve something notable. The information is there for those willing to learn”. Angelo Eliades

His article and basically the entire website is a great resource for researching permaculture. I am thankful the Angelo was real. “Willing to learn” is the key here. Permaculture food forests is a subject that people could talk about for hours. And they do at several Universities around the world.

Angelo, a graduate of Biological Sciences himself, didn’t have a job for the three months that he implemented the food forest. And during that time he educated himself and read up on several books. He describes creating a food forest as an “ambitious undertaking”, which I’m sure could even be considered an understatement for people like me who didn’t study the sciences in college.

Although, the Permaculture Food Forest is, essentially, – indeed an “ambitious undertaking – I think that Gandhi was onto something when he wrote (in Hind Swaraj) that “Good travels at a snail’s pace” & “Evil has wings”.

In our “destructive industrial culture” things that take time are usually not worth our time. As Angelo said – in order to achieve something notable we must dare to try something new and different.

We must be okay with growth not being instantaneous – with results not being instantaneous. It takes time to build a house & its destruction takes seconds.

I believe, in many ways, we are on a road to destruction and yes, we might live in a  “destructive industrial society”. But, I hold to the fact that there is still promise in the world because there are people who are willing to learn.


Pro-Tips for starting a Permaculture food forest:

  • Be willing


Make things happen!

— Abby



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