Envisioning a Forest Garden

As we get ready to start our email series on forest gardening basics in mid-February, I wanted to serve up a few appetizers.

The Permaculture design process starts from patterns and moves to details, so to get familar with what food forests are about and more importantly, what they look and feel like, here are 3 really fantastic videos featuring cold-climate forest gardens. They’re each about 15 minutes long and well worth the time.

Martin Crawford’s Forest Garden

This video features one of the oldest temperate forest gardens in the world, possibly the oldest that was designed and created as a forest garden instead of being adapted later from a more conventional garden or orchard. Martin Crawford is the author of many fantastic books on forest gardening and the publisher of Agroforestry News.


Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute forest garden.

Another early example from a dryer climate than we have in the Great Lakes region.


The Avis’ zone 3 micro-food forest.

This video from Calgary Canada shows what’s possible on a VERY small urban r suburban yard. The first video features the forest garden, while the rest shows other design features from their very cold climate. Many of these features aren’t necessary in the Great Lakes region, but the forest garden’s a good example of how to make good use of small spaces.


If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave me a comment.



Designing a Food Forest Garden: Complete Course Curriculum


The class that takes you through every step of designing your own forest garden and learning how to use what you grow. Each class we’ll review monthly yields, bloom schedules and maintenance tasks, in addition to the curriculum. Every class date will also include a workshop, in which we start putting our learning to work planing and installing our own forest garden projects.

Forest Garden Design Basics – May 2017

– Aesthetics: we’ll review a wide variety of forest garden aesthetics and help you choose a look that you love.
– Integrating social uses: Social functions are part of the definition of successful forest gardens. We’ll look at how you want to use the space and design a forest garden to enhance your use.
– Site mapping: using free site mapping tools to create a base map for your site.
– Workshop: Picking aesthetic ideas for a journal and visioning our own home paradise.

Regenerative Design – June 2017

– Energy efficient design
– Zones: the classic Permaculture tool for making gardening easy and energy efficient
– Sectors: Identifying energy streams we can put to use.
– Review
– Workshop: Zone and sector analysis on our basemaps.

Advanced Forest Gardening Design – July 2017

– Water-wise design
– Polyculture basics: Not just one plant, but many, living together as a community. We’ll start discussing how to design functional ecologies.
– Soils and how to build them: We’ll discuss how ecosystems build soil, and how we can copy them to create amazingly fertile gardens.
– Mulch types: Picking the right mulch type for the job!
– Workshop: Identify opportunities and strategies for a water-wise garden, add them to our basemaps.

Designing Plant Communities – August 2017

– Guild Design: we’ll discuss strategies for designing great ecologies at the micro level.
– Lillie House Pre-designed guilds. We’ll give you descriptions of the guilds we use to import into your project, or as a template for designing your own.
– Workshop, begin selecting trees and bushes, arrange them in functional guilds onto our basemaps.

Paths and Beds Design  – September 2017

– Paths: the most difficult part of any garden to design. We’ll discuss path design and materials and how to maintain them. We’ll cover case studies of different forest gardens and their outcomes with different path types.
– Bed Preparation: We’ll discuss a variety of strategies for preparing beds and planting them to minimize maintenance
– Workshop: Mid-course project review: We’ll look at our base maps and assess how we’re doing.

Installation – The Permaculture Way! – October

– Permaculture Community Organizing.
– How to organize, outreach and plan a fun and educational get-together of family and friends to help build your forest garden. If that isn’t an option, we’ll help provide other strategies to make your forest garden a reality.
– We even provide promotional materials and letter ideas for your outreach.

Forest Garden Project Review – November 2017

– Review Course, final discussion.
– Project presentations (optional.) Our students share their own design projects with each other. The opportunity to participate in the design and implementation of multiple forest gardening projects will make you one of our region’s most experienced forest gardeners.
– Workshop: Final project review and recommendations.

For 2017, we will be offering 2 sections of the course, one on 3rd Saturdays, from 9 – 12 May-November, and one on third Thursday evenings, from 6 – 9.

To reserve your spot, visit our store!

Or see our other membership packages.

Our Portfolio

At Lillie House, we design gardens that harmonize with the historic and arhitectural character of your home and neighborhood, but with the benefits of ecological “wild” plantings. We often use formal elements and layouts with designed polycultures that mimic nature to reduce maintenance and create natural resilience. And almost everything we use is edible or useful.

Lillie House – Community Supported Permaculture (CSP)

The easiest, most cost-effective and most rewarding way for you to begin your Permaculture adventure:

Create your own healthy personal food system,
Invest in yourself and your community,
Learn about gardening and Permaculture,
And transform your home landscape into the kind of paradise you day-dream of visiting on vacations.

That’s what we want to create.

So we at Lillie House Permaculture came up with the Community Supported Permaculture programs, beginning with the Community Supported Forest Gardening membership.


We all want to live in beautiful, rich landscapes where we feel secure, our needs are met, we’re surrounded by opportunities for meaningful leisure, and gourmet delicacies – fit for the finest restaurants – fall from the trees.

A place we can really relax and thrive: I believe we all deserve that.

Using tools like Permaculture Design, Ecology, Forest Gardening, and community organizing, there is absolutely NO reason we can’t create the happy, healthy and wealthy communities and ecosystems we deserve.

And we can start right at home.

No matter who you are, where you live, or what your goals are, we want to work with you to create a membership to fit your needs and overcome your barriers.

Meanwhile, you’ll be generously investing in us, helping us meet our needs and overcome our barriers as we invest in our community and work to make S.W. Michigan a better place to live for EVERYONE.

Right now, we’re launching our first major initiative, the Community Supported Forest Gardens program. Please check it out and let us know what you think.