Farmers Trees

I gathered together some recent messages from the austinperm listserver:

Kirby commenting on permablitzes:

Each blitz usually consists of us building 48 to 120 linear feet of berm and swale, planting the area extensively with fruit trees and farmers trees, with vines and brambles and tubers, with cover crops and annual vegetable seeds, and installing irrigation.

On the Question of Farmers Trees, Kirby answers:

Farmers trees meet some but not all of the following requirements; that they are leguminous (have bean pods), fix nitrogen, have dappled / light shade, are deep rooted, deposit minerals through their leaf litter, have a high sugar-content bean, provide fodder for livestock, and can be coppiced.

Bill Mollison said we need thirty farmers trees per acre, or at least one for every three fruit trees. Farmer's trees are often pioneer trees, and serve as nurse trees for more sensitive fruit tree cultivars.

They are essentially what makes a permaculture garden an agriculturally productive ecosystem with the stability, resilience and diversity of a natural ecosystem, instead of just an orchard. - Kirby

Mitch added:

So, from an earlier list from Kirby: honey mesquite, honey locust, Eve's necklace, fragrant mimosa, cat claw acacia, white thorn acacia, and guajillo acacia.  

I'd add: Goldenball Leadtree, Huisache, Black Locust, Retama and the "other" Palo Verde, Texas Kidneywood, other Acacias and Western Soapberry.  I also add a few deciduous Oaks and Elms to stabilize the system. - E. E. "Mitch" Mitchamore


I'd love to see some comments on what folks have found effective in Central Texas and surrounding areas.  btw. I got this image from the University of Texas Wildflower website at



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