Garden work day SaturdayAugust 18, 9am-12pm

Hello everyone, we’ll be back out in the garden from 9am to 12pm this Saturday, August 18. Out activities will mostly be weeding and harvesting. We’ll have the chance to sample some seasonal fruits (lots of peaches) and vegetables (sweet potato greens, yard-long beans, and some others).

If you’d like to see what an permaculture edible landscape looks like after a dozen  years, this is a good place to do that. Sign up here.




An excellent work day

We had a fantastic work day today with people from New York, Boston, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Lots of weeding was done, we drilled shiitake logs, and plenty of berries were consumed. IMG_2815Here’s the sampling plate we served of seasonal vegetables. Clockwise from top: squash shoots, fragrant spring tree, perennial kale, edible-leaf mulberry, littleleaf linden. In center squash blossoms, black nightshade greens, milkweed pods.

Thanks to everyone who came.

Work day this Saturday July 14 9am-12pm

We’ll be having a work day this Saturday morning from 9am-12pm. Lots of weeding and a fair bit of harvesting. You can sign up here.

There will also be sampling of seasonal delights. Fruits may include currants (white, pink, and black), gooseberries (red and green), blueberries, white and purple mulberries, the last black raspberries, the first red raspberries. Vegetables will likely include squash blossoms and shoots, perennials kales and vegetable ferns from the greenhouse, perennial arugula, black nightshade greens,  milkweed broccolis, and leaves of edible trees including fragrant spring tree, edible-leaf mulberry, and linden.

Note that edible-leaf mulberry and fragrant spring tree are two of the most nutritious vegetables on the entire planet (based on Eric’s soon-to-be-published research). Of over 300 vegetable species for which data was available, edible-leaf mulberry (Morus spp) is in the top ten highest for content of calcium, iron, and Vitamin C. It has four times the Vitamin C of oranges! It’s also very high in fiber. Fragrant spring tree (Toona sinensis) is in the top ten highest for calcium and Vitamins A and E – in fact it is the highest of all 300 for Vitamin E content. It’s also very high in iron. Both species are easily maintained as edible hedges or coppiced “human fodder banks.”


Image shows the leaves of edible-leaf mulberry and fragrant spring tree in our edible hedge. Tree vegetables for cold climates!

Water garden ready for the season

Last weekend thanks to our fantastic work day team we were able to muck out our rather neglected water garden. Now it is stocked with mosquito-eating goldfish and loaded with fantastic aquatic vegetables.

This year we’re growing arrowhead, Chinese lotus, water celery, water fern, a native edible water lily, an edible aquatic native hibiscus, and our native skirret (water parsnip).


Here’s a photo of the garden in its glory a few years ago – we’ll do even better this year!

Leaning to garden like a forest

How did I learn food forestry? Some from books and classes, but mostly due to the opportunity to help out in other people’s gardens. Steve Breyer of Tripple Brook Farm, orchardist Dave Gott, and many others gave me the chance to learn skills, be around the plants,  and actually taste things I had only read about in books.

In this spirit, Paradise Lot work days offer you the chance to taste seasonal fruits, nuts, and perennial vegetables, to learn the skills hands-on, and to ask questions of people with experience.

For the time being you can sign up at the Paradise Lot Facebook Page or email


Off to greener pastures

This month Jonathan, Megan, and Jesse headed off to a farm in Ithaca New York. We already miss them – who is going to help us eat all that fruit? We’re proud and happy to see them take this next big step towards their farm dream.

Jonathan and I worked together to get the garden ready for their departure, including simplifying some beds, moving some big trees around, and dismantling the aquaponics system.

Meanwhile friends, our new neighbor Roxy, and volunteers are keeping are garden looking lovely. We have new chicks, some exciting new spice plants (spicebush, Carolina allspice, sansho pepper, and mioga ginger among others), and are off to a great start.

Paradise Lot evolves, Food Forest Farm is moving
by Jonathan Bates

I’m learning that one of the assurances in life is that impermanence is a part of the natural flow of things. We already miss our close friends the Toensmeiers. The years of home gardening together was life changing and magnificent. We look forward to frequent visits back to Holyoke to be with them and help eat the harvest 🙂 For those customers, acquaintances and readers who are learning of our move for the first time in this blog post, Paradise Lot is evolving, and Food Forest Farm will relocate to NY.

Let me explain… In terms of the plant nursery that was born at Paradise Lot, Food Forest Farm fall plant orders will sill go out starting October 2017. And future plant sales will continue from our new food forest in NY after we transition all plants from our production nursery in Massachusetts.

So, although there are big changes a foot, and Food Forest Farm is starting a new chapter, we are excited about the opportunities and adventures ahead. Food Forest Farm is looking forward to these future potentialities and partnerships: digging deeper into broad-acre silvopasture and agroforestry; soil carbon and climate change solutions; building our network in New York including these awesome folks:;;

If you’d like to contact Jonathan and discuss opportunities for building relationships and connections in our New York home we’d love to hear from you! As for visiting Paradise Lot in Holyoke you should attend one of our educational opportunities this summer and fall: Garden Tours, Workshops, and Garden Help Days.