Food Forest Role-Playing Game

This activity is very useful in explaining to children such permaculture concepts as food forests, layers, and stacking functions. Seven children will be the seven different layers of the forest garden – each placed in a position that reflects their niche. Steps Beginning with the “Canopy” have the first child stand tall arms outstretched. Have the “Low Tree Layer” child stand, arms to the side, next to the “Canopy.” The “Shrub Layer” should hunch over when placed next to the “Low Tree.” Sitting cross-legged, the next child becomes the “Herbaceous” layer. By getting on their hands and knees the following child mimics the roots of the “Rhizosphere.” For the “Soil Surface” the next child can lie down to illustrate the ground cover. Finally, instruct the child chosen to be the “Vertical Layer” to go and give the first kid a hug.   Tips Provide name tags for the students to wear. One side can say the general layer (Shrubs) while the other side can list specific plants (Blackberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants). Children can be chosen based on height (tallest to shortest) or age (to explain time stacking). As you position each child, take the opportunity to explain the benefits each layer plays in the food forest. Example: “In addition to food, trees can provide shade, mulch, building materials, windbreak, and animal habitat.” Give examples of each layer or challenge children to come up with examples on their own. “Can you think of a plant grown for it’s roots?” Quiz children: “Where would I find strawberries?” (They answer “Soil” or “#6” or the person’s name) Make connections. Children are more likely...