KJ Hannah Greenberg
and Trouble Mandeson

Trouble Mandeson
Inspiration piece

Food Forest “Friends”
By KJ Hannah Greenberg

“Arayan, we have it all!”

“Aviano, just pass the butter.”

“No, really, sister, look out our window. We’ve a food forest!”

“Jam’s good.”

“The walnut trees and apples; they’re the canopy. The dwarf apricots, peaches and nectarines are the lower tree layer.”

“Too bad about the cherries.”

“We never planted cherry trees.”

“No, Silly, in the cherry jam—I finished that flavor last time we brunched.”

“The shrub layer is the currents, brambles, and bush plums, I mean the cherry-plums. I guess we did sort of grow cherries, after all.”

“Are you eating that toast cooling on your plate? If not, can I have dibs?”

“Rosemary, asparagus, dill, peas, parsley, hot peppers hot, mild peppers, corn, coriander, borage, celery, spinach, kale, cabbage, bok choi, basil, broccoli, and lavender count as our herbaceous level.”

“Could I finish your hot chocolate, too? You always leave it over. Unlike you, I like hot stuff in July.”

“Chamomile, thyme, purslane, nasturtiums, sorrel, chocolate mint, pumpkin, and strawberries make up our soil layer. Those groundcovers are so pretty!”

“Do you want some iced green tea, instead? Else, there’s cinnamon with nutmeg infusion in the fridge.”

“Onions, potatoes, yams, turnips, beets, red radishes, daikon, garlic, carrots, horseradish, ginger, fennel, and turmeric are our root level.”

“Whatever. Here’s a glass of water with mint leaves and lots of ice.”

“Pole beans, tomatoes, eggplants, passiflora, bitter melon, broad beans, zucchini, cucumbers, and grapes constitute our vertical layer. I tell you, we’ve grown a food forest! We’re agroforesters!”

“Forests also have wildlife.”

“We have deer that eat our Brussels sprouts, chipmunks that nibble our apples, and raccoons that chow on our raspberries. We’ve wildlife in abundance! Plus, our yard gives us food security better than can any neighborhood market. What’s more, our food forest has better carbon sequestration than did our former lawn. I love knowing that we’re sinking all manner of goodness into our soil and growing comestibles and medicinal herbs.”

“You know, I suffer every time you distill plant materials in vodka or vinegar. We have enough mothers! Besides, it’s so much easier to mail-order tinctures.”

“I plan to keep making them. Regardless, think biodiversity! Think healthy soil! Think rainwater infiltration! Think homeschooling!”

“I’m thinking ice water best suits you, especially when poured into a plastic cup.”


“Yup. You nearly always knock your drink off our table when gesturing, like… just … now. Anyway, homeschooling? What are you thinking? Neither of us are married or are moms.”

“We can still teach. To wit, I invited the local elementary school to visit us one grade at a time. Over the next few weeks, our yard will be filled with bright-eyed boys and girls, teachers, administrators, and news crews.”

“News crews?”

“To share the wealth. Bye-bye lawns. Hello food forests!”

“Why encourage little and not-so-little fingers to ‘accidentally,’ and prematurely harvest our calendula, echinacea, and marigolds? I envision their multitude of feet trampling our violets, and escarole, bowling with our artichokes, and pulling off the smallest of our cauliflower curds.”

“That would be bad.”

“More water?”


“What if we hosted neighborhood potlucks, instead? I think it’s best to avoid young hordes and their minders.”

“We’re no CSA; we’re just a family garden on a little less than a third of an acre. Environmentally savvy people would be jealous that our land’s shaded by a hundred year-old oak and that we easily compensate our spinach and beets with dolomite powder and other alkaline-rich minerals. They’d hate how well our wheelbarrows of fallen leaves heat our compost pile, too.”

“Tell ya what, cancel the news crews. Cancel the children.”


“We could keep the potluck. We’d not have to cook for days since hosts get leftovers. Besides, you like mac and cheese, fruited gelatin, and cubed veggie salad. As you know, in general, I like eating.”

“Yes, but you hate having to pick up cigarette butts, collect beer cans and clean them for the recycling center, and pull litter out from under our hydrangeas, hostas, lemon balm, and sage.”

“True. Very true. I equally hate scooping carnivores’ poop. I wish people would leave their pets at home. Last time we had a party in the garden, the woodchucks and rabbits hid from us for nearly a week.”

“You know, it is the case that our Dutchman’s Pipes are still young—they’re fragile. I don’t want them compromised. Guests, in large amounts, could be a problem.”

“So, you’ll call off the news crews?”

“Sure. And you’ll cancel all thoughts of a potluck?”

“Sure. And you’ll uninvite the school kids?”

“Must I?”

“Yup. But take pictures and upload them. Create a YouTube channel. There’s so many other ways to share.”

“Just the Ecology Club?”

“Maybe. Hands on is best. Okay, just the Ecology Club. But both of us have to be home to supervise and not more than ten kids at a time.”


“Pineapple pizza for dinner?”

“How can you think of food? Oops, you’re always thinking of food.”

“That’s how we started our garden—remember? Anyway, this brunch was tasty, but you, not me, are going to mop your mess.”

“Admit you love our food forest’s birds and butterflies and that you are protective of its voles.”

“I admit. I also like its opossums since they eat nasty reptiles.”

“I’m glad we ‘overplanted’ with the animals in mind. “Kind” traps just displace local residents.”

“At best. Pizza delivery after sundown? I’m not cooking. I’d be so happy if I never had to cook again.”

“You wanted the garden because you love cooking.”

“Fair enough. Okay, no more cooking until tomorrow morning. Today, I’m tinkering with the garden’s irrigation system.”

“You’ll remember to set the timer for a two hour span during the night?”

“Of course.”

“You’ll pick some herbs and veggies and make frittatas tomorrow?”

“Of course. How many kids, by the way, are in the Ecology Club?”

“Don’t know. I haven’t founded it yet.”


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