<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=342303822814161&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Permaculture Food Forests

Permaculture Food Forests are intentional cultivated forest gardens that contain native and cultivated plants, which provide yields for humans and ecological functions.

Essentially, a low-maintenance forest that's completely edible!

What Are The Benefits of a Food Forest?

A food forest is a sustainable and natural way to produce healthy and organic food.

By learning how to tend your specific soil and develop plant communities you'll be able to improve your yield and provide nourishing and healthy food for you and your family.

Learning Outcomes for Food Forest Design

This course will teach you how to design a food forest for your unique climate and needs using permaculture principles and ecology.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the food forest concept and how it can be useful in your community.
  • Assess a site for the planting of a food forest.
  • Understand various plant relationships that can contribute to high diversity and resilience in your food forest.
  • Make strategic decisions about which species to include in your design to meet your needs and steward your local environment.
  • Develop an integrated design for an urban food forest for your location.
  • Consider the ways that yields and maintenance changes throughout the year to take good care of your backyard food forest design.

This course culminates in a final design proposal for a local site that is specific to your location and goals.

Food Forests Online Course Structure

Week 1 provides an overview of the food forest concept by looking at various types of native food forests around the world. We look at the considerations of climate, goal development, and the structure of food forests.

Week 2 focuses on the roles that plants play in an ecological system. You will learn how to identify microclimates and niches to determine what plants could be best for your location. This week includes an assessment of the soil on your site and how you can adapt it for the cultivation of food.

Week 3 highlights ecological functions that plants offer to guide you in creating guilds, or beneficial relationships between your plants in your food forest.

Week 4 is about building relationships with wildlife and pollinators in your food forest. You will learn how to create and identify habitat. This week will include information on a permaculture approach for discouraging pests and disease.

Week 5 guides you on the management needs and potential yields from your food forest. You will complete your design development, including an understanding of how your food forest changes throughout the year.This course will be supplemented with the Natural Capital Database, an international database of useful plants to help students find species that suit their unique needs and their climate.


Designed by Oregon State University, this expert-led course features the following learning formats:

  • video lectures
  • exercises
  • assignments
  • multimedia resources
Mar. 30 - May 3, 2020
price (2)
$495 (+ $60 registration fee)


Marisha Auerbach

Marisha Auerbach is an internationally recognized permaculture educator, designer and speaker based in Portland, OR. She has been practicing, studying and teaching permaculture for over twenty years in the Pacific Northwest. Marisha has worked in diverse environments from the humid temperate climate to the tropical rainforest in Belize to the arid landscapes of Colorado and Montana. Her international experience includes work in Belize, Haiti, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.