“Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.”
“The ultimate goal of forest gardening is not only crops, but also the cultivation and perfection of new ways of seeing, thinking, and acting in the world.”
~Dave Jacke, Edible Forest Gardens
Imagine a forest where every tree is dripping with fresh fruits and ripening nuts. Every shrub is packed with delicious berries, and every other plant is a medicinal herb, culinary spice, or beautiful edible flower. Tubers and root crops are large underfoot, gourmet mushroom logs sprout in the shade, and hardy kiwi vines climb back up through the layers of this multifunctional forest of food. Learn how to design, establish, and maintain such Edible Forest Garden Sanctuary.
This is not your ordinary home-study course. This correspondence form of education provides a comprehensive introduction and practical application of Forest Gardening, allowing students to apply the principles in every aspect of their lives. Learn to design and manage a complete Food Forest Garden System.”
What is Forest Gardening?
Forest Gardening might best be defined as a way of life, and its methods can be applied in your garden and the wider community. This course provides practical solutions to create a more enduring and harmonious living. Learn how to design a lifestyle that is low in environmental impact consciously but at the same time highly productive.
A solid foundation for designing edible forest gardens. Upon completion, you can draw food forest design plans and advise others as a forest garden consultant. As with any course at any institute, you need to be realistic and understand that over 100 hours of study, you can only learn so much. You are becoming an excellent forest garden consultant will require ongoing research and informal learning as you move on after this foundation course.
Some graduates do nothing more than this one course. Following these foundation studies, set up a forest garden consulting or educator business that grows and develops from that humble beginning. Others pursue further studies to broaden and deepen their knowledge and skills before launching a career.
Forest garden designers and educators may be self-employed or work within another business (e.g. a plant nursery or landscape business). Many do this as a sideline to another job, but some have successfully built forest gardening into a full-time vocation.
Bridging the Gap Between
Forest Gardening & Ecological Herbalism
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted, reviewed and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Part I – Ecological Vision & Theory for Temperate Climate
- The Forest and the Trees
- Visions of Paradise
- The Five Elements of Forest Architecture
- Social Structure: Niches, Relationships, and Communities
- Structures of the Underground Economy
- Succession: Four Perspectives on Vegetation Dynamics
- Elements, Dynamics, and Desired Conditions
Lesson 1 ~ Introduction: Forest Gardening for the Future of the Earth – The Vision: A Call to Action
- Overview of Forest Gardening
- Definition of a Forest Food Garden
- Introducing the Ecological Garden of Sustainability
- Your Invitation of Adventure
- A Brief History of Forest Gardening
- Why Grow a Forest Garden?
- Where Can You Grow a Forest Garden?
- Gardens that Really Work with Nature
- Why is Gardening So Much Work
- The Primeval Forest: A Remembrance
- Going Beyond – Way Beyond – Natural Gardening
- Cultivating an Edible Landscape
- How a Forest Garden Works
- Goals of Forest Gardening
- Dreaming the Gardens of the Future
- Creating Sacred Sanctuaries
- The 30-Year Medicine Wheel Garden Project
Lesson 2 ~ A Gardener’s Ecology
- Gardening the Forest
- The Forest & the Trees
- Gardening Like the Forest vs. Gardening in the Forest
- The Three Ecological Principles
- A Mature Garden
- The Natives versus Exotics: Definitions & Questions
- Understanding Plant Communities
- The Web of Connections
- Symbiosis: Living Together
- The Self-Sufficient System: The Seven – S’s
- Images of Edible Forest Gardens
Part II: Ecological Design & Practice for Temperate Climate
- A Forest Gardener’s Tool Kit
- Understanding Pattern Language
- Design Processes 1: Overview, Goals, and Assessments
- Design Processes 2: The Design Phase
- Site Preparation
- Garden Establishment
- Management, Maintenance, and Coevolution
- The Future of Forest Gardening
- An Honouring of Robert Hart
Lesson 3 ~ Designing the Ecological Forest Gardening Design
- Pattern & Observation
- The Web of Connections
- Working with Nature
- The Forest Garden Design Process
- Natural Patterns in the Garden
- Patterning: Unity & Biodiversity
- The Five Elements of the Forest Architecture
- The Seven-Story Garden: Vegetation Layers
- Soil Horizons
- The Practical Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
Lesson 4 ~ Building the Soil to Life
- The Living Soil
- Soil Life: The First Recyclers
- Understanding the Components of Soil
- The Anatomy of Self-Renewing Fertility
- The Soil Zoo: Biology Beneath Your Feet
- Structures of the Underground Economy
- The Soil Food Web
- Plant Roots: Engines of the Underground Economy
- The Soil’s Nutritional Constitution
- The Ultimate Soil Building Process
- Sharing the Wealth of the Soil
- Keeping the Soil Alive
- The fertility of the Soil is the Future of Civilization.
- The Most Important Crop on the Planet
- The Lost Art of Mulching
- The Ancient Wisdom of Sheet Mulching
Lesson 5 ~ The Fivefold to Water Wisdom
- Water: the Life-Force of Garden Life
- Catching, Conserving & Using Water
- Water: Doing More with Less
- Practical Solutions to Our Water Crisis
- Harvesting, Holding & Storing Water
- Conserving Water with Catchment
- Planning a Water-Harvesting System
Lesson 6 ~ The Plant Communities
- The Many Roles of a Tree
- Multipurpose Plants
- The Roles of Plants in a Forest Theatre
- Annuals & Perennials
- Microclimates for the Forest Garden
- Species, Species Niches, Species Relationships
Lesson 7 ~ The Forest Garden Companions
- Bringing in the Birds & the Bees
- Attracting Beneficial Insects
- Other Forest Garden Helpers
- Understanding the Dynamic Relationship of Pests
Lesson 8 ~ Creating Communities for the Forest Garden
- Interplanting & Beyond
- Co-operation & Competition
- The Principles of Succession
- Four Perspectives on Vegetation Dynamics
- Succession Design: Using the Four Models
- Putting Things Together
- Applying the Principles of Forest Gardening
Lesson 9 ~ Designing Forest Garden Guilds
- An Intimate Way of Guild-Building
- The Polycultural Elements of Forest Gardening
- Blueprinting Your Own Polyculture
- Guilding the Forest Garden
- Natural Plant Communities to Guide Design
- An Example of an Apple – Centered Guild
- The Art of Fine-Tuning the Guild
- And Now – Creating The Super-Guild
Lesson 10 ~ Growing Your Own Edible Forest Garden
- Experimenting with Edible Forest Gardens
- Designing Your Forest Garden
- Charts, Grafts & Other Useful Stuff
- Plants for the Forest Garden
- Guilding the Food Forest
- How the Food Forest Evolves
Lesson 11 ~ The Ever-Evolving Forest Garden
- Recap of the Garden Adventure
- Choosing the Right Ingredients
- Building Fertility
- Mother Earth’s Other Kingdoms
- Harvesting & Recycling Resources
- Building Interconnections
- The Ever-Changing Art of Perfection
- The Garden as an Organism
- Assembling the Forest Garden
- Conclusion: Elements, Dynamics & Desired Conditions
Lesson 12 ~ Supplemental Material – Appendix
- A Sampling of Useful Plants
- A Few of Our Favourite Trees & Plants
- Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Further Study & Hands-on Experience
For hands-on training, see our Mentorship Program for dates and details. Click here>
For information about the Forest Gardening, Educator Course, click here>
For information about our Visionary Herbalism Diploma Course click here>
Part I (The Correspondence Course) Is the home study part of the course. Study the material and do the lessons at your own pace. Send in the lessons through e-mail. We’ll check your lessons, comment, and give you feedback on your progress.
Part II (The Advanced Study & Research) Thesis Project allows you to dive even deeper into the teachings. Choose an area of study you are particularly drawn to in the course. A topic that sparks your passion invites your curiosity and beckons you to explore. Write a 5,000-word thesis and conduct a research project to be submitted within the course study time. Also, we ask you to offer to your community and document a couple of workshops or lectures to build understanding, expertise and confidence.
These sessions are available to both support and deepen the learning experience of this course. Three sessions of 40 minutes each can be done over the phone or through Skype. These are available to guide and advise you on your research thesis project. You must book these sessions in advance once you have sent in your proposed thesis topic.
Your Guide & Adviser: Shantree Kacera
Homework & Assignment
Homework is sent upon completion of each lesson and is returned to you. You DO NOT need to send your reference files. However, it would be best if you kept us posted on how you’re doing with your projects, i.e., how your reference file is progressing, reports on your garden designs and your forest food forest.
You may complete these lessons on your schedule. To utilize them to their fullest, we recommend you set up a scheduled time to do each lesson; one evening a week or an afternoon on the weekends will keep your momentum going. The average time to complete the course is about one year. Some students have completed the material in 6 months, while others may take a few years.
We do ask that you complete the course in two years. After two years, if the student fails to complete the course within the allotted period, the time-extension fee is $100 for each additional year.
One of the specialties of these lessons is the personal attention available to your questions and homework. We invite your comments, favourite experiences and suggestions.
Each student who completes the lessons and ALL the homework will receive a beautiful Forest Gardening Certificate. The Certificate awarded states that you are acknowledged for conducting a thorough, in-depth study of Forest Gardening. This course is on the leading edge in education for future needs.
Lessons 1-10 & An Adobe DVD Reader
The Forest Gardening Correspondence Course Textbooks and DVD Reader will be sent to you as soon as we receive your tuition.
Textbooks for the Course
- Edible Forest Gardens: Volume One: Vision & Theory (Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeir)
- Edible Forest Gardens: Volume Two: Design & Practice (Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeir)
- Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (Toby Hemenway, Chelsea Green, 2009)
- Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems (Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, Bruce Ruddock, Chelsea Green, 2014)
- Creating a Forest Garden: Working With Nature to Grow Edible Crops (Martin Crawford, Green Books, 2011)
- Forest Gardening: Rediscovering Nature and Community in a Post-Industrial Age, (Robert Hart, 1996)
- Forest Garden USB Flash Drive ~ Includes Lessons, Assignments & Garden Projects & hundreds of articles, charts and resources (compiled by Shantree Kacera, R.H., D.N., Ph.D.)
A Self-Study Guide
How does one know if they understand the fundamentals of forest gardening and the design process? Each student receives a self-study guidance tool for forest garden lessons with unique questions created by Shantree Kacera, D.N., Ph.D. As you go through your assignments and forest garden design projects, these questions will help guide you toward the most important things you should know and remember about forest gardening and ecological herbalism. Suppose you can answer these questions and work creatively on your garden design projects. In that case, you can be confident that you have the foundational understanding that comes with this forest gardening certification training.
On-Site Forest Garden Design Work
This course will support you with various aids with your on-site portion of this course with the charts, DVD reader and guided self-study. The course package is full of practical forest garden design exercises and actual design work you will be working on in your garden.
Final Design Projects
All students will be involved in forest garden design projects as part of their training. Students are invited to send in diagrams, sketches, plant lists or visual aids such as photographs and DVD recordings.
The subject combines all aspects of forest food gardening into designing and managing a comprehensive and balanced system. This subject is relevant to both the home backyard gardener and large-scale acreage.
A thoughtful approach to how we live on our planet is achieved by designing ecologically-sustainable, proper ways to manage our gardens, households and communities.
With this course, we inform and engage you in creating ecologically intelligent designs for human living and planetary sustainability. You will learn how to apply practical forest gardening and ecological design to diverse landscapes with a focus on design ideas for dense urban environments and temperate regions.
This study aims to give you an overview of how to design, implement and maintain a temperate forest garden. Become empowered by discovering how to grow your food no matter how big or small your backyard is. Gain your qualifications in forest gardening, design your property, and learn how to ‘be a part of the solution’ using forest gardening principles.
- Understand the role of structures in a forest garden environment
- Develop knowledge of water-efficient techniques.
- Understand the role of indigenous plants in a forest garden.
- Develop skills in preparing management and developing design plans.
- Perform a significant design project.
Why Choose This Course?
Our tutorial support is second-to-none! You’ll be working with Shantree; he’ll act as your mentor as soon as you enrol and will work with you all through. You can contact him if you have any questions or challenges or tell him how the course is going. Mentorship support is by e-mail and telephone.
Learn to prepare plans for food forest systems. (ex. A unique landscape where plants live balanced in a self-sustaining ecosystem). It commonly involves developing a garden where the plants are put together to support each other’s growth and development. The forest garden may change over the years but always remains productive, requires little input once established, and is environmentally sound. This is an “intensive” in-depth course.
This course provides a good starting point for setting yourself up as a Forest Gardener: Sustainable-Ecological Garden Designer.
Temperate Climate with a Focus on Bioregional Resilience
For those folks that have a large piece of land, or those with an acre or two, or those who live in the suburbs or city – in this course, we will use forest gardening examples that are specific to one of these areas, the student tends to get more out of the system. It is also a bit of a challenge if there are significant climate or bio-regional differences between where one life and where one takes their course. Nature’s principles don’t change, but our courses will tend to emphasize examples and factors related to the temperate climate zone, with a focus on supporting localization and resilience practices (and the other regions of the globe), looking at what they have in common. If you live in an area that freezes in the winter, our trainings and courses will tend to cater to those climate factors.
What We Wish to Transfer to Our Enrolled Participants
We know that many students have done correspondence courses and have done little with their education, their textbooks sitting clean and quiet on a shelf. Learning something is one thing; having the motivation and inspiration to put something into motion is another.
Because of this, we have designed our correspondence courses to:
- Give our participants all the essential tools and facts related to an entire forest garden and ecological herbalism design education.
- Continually bring everything back to the fundamentals to see how the specifics all tie together.
- Keep the information creatively interesting, engaging and fun.
- Deepen the understanding that each of us can make a difference from where we are and what we have.
- Inspire confidence in each participant.
“If you go into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll understand that you’re connected with everything.”
“Goethe put it over two centuries ago . . . Life as a whole expresses itself as a force that is not to be contained within any one part. . . . The things we call the parts in every living being are so inseparable from the whole that they may be understood only in and with the whole.”
~Stephen Harrod Buhner
The regular fee is $1500
- All Correspondence Course material
- One-on-One Sessions
- Taxes where applicable
Shipping is $50 for North America | Shipping is $100 for International
Our commitment and cancellation policy
Click here to request more information.