Farmers Friday – 6 Steps to Creating a Fungal Ecosystem on your Land

Using fungi as a tool for ecological restoration is a relatively new concept borrowed from the age-old methods of nature. Today, we know that the strength and health of any ecosystem is a direct measure of its diverse fungal populations and their interplay with plants, insects, bacteria, and other organisms.

With this guide, I wanted to create a protocol that mimics or replicates what forested land would do after some sort of a catastrophe, i.e. how it would heal itself, but, of course, all of this is applied to a food forest out in the open sun. So in summary:

1. We started the whole process by having the right conditions in mind. Fungi need shade, moisture, and food, and we’ve started to create these beneficial conditions for both the fungi and the trees with some earthworks and covercropping.

2. We found local strains of fungi and other microorganisms in the nearby forest that you can cultivate and use to inoculate your food forest soil. You don’t have to reinvent anything, just do what nature does and use what nature would in your local ecosystem restoration.

3. First, we introduced the saprophytic fungi to your land; these are easiest to recognize and transplant (think fallen logs in the forest). The introduction of these pioneering fungi will begin the soil creation and trigger a cascade of activity by other organisms.

4. Following this, we introduced the mycorrhizal fungi to the system, whether by using wild spawn, spores, mushrooms or cultivated root fragments. Once in the ground, these fungi will improve the soil and help your plants grow and distribute the nutrients and water where they’re needed the most.

5. Next, we introduced the fungi we made a compost tea brew to bring other symbiotic organisms that will help fungi and plants grow. Fungi will grow better if you bring the rest of the forest soil microbes, especially bacteria. The most effective way of doing this is brewing some compost tea and spreading it all over the place.

6. Finally, we continue to promote the fungal environment with woody debris. With everything in place and your food forest growing you need to keep adding woody debris in the form of wood chips, logs, hugelbeds if you want to keep the fungal biomass growing.

There you have it, that’s how you work in partnership with fungi to help your food forest grow!


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