The Apios Institute: A Polyculture Wiki in the Works

What happens when you bring farmers, gardeners, and researchers together with a singular purpose? A wiki of perennial polycultures shepherded by the Apios Institute that aims to support folks around the world who wish to grow their climate's version of an "integrated perennial-crop agroecosystems (variously known as multistrata agroforests, tropical homegardens, food forests, and forest gardens)."

Successful polyculture design that incorporates perennial plants and climate challenges can be a tough needle to thread on your own. That's why, for nearly 10 years, Apios has crowdsourced information and is now looking to expand that vision, as well as open access to some 700 perennial crops notated in Eric Toensmeier’s forthcoming book, The Carbon Farming Solution.

The beauty of proper polyculture farming is that it is scalable, from backyards to agroforests. And the all-volunteer team at the Apios Institute believes that agroecosystems, which take both biodiversity and climate change into account, equate to "the epitome of sustainability,” when it comes to agriculture.

Though the current wiki site has served the Apios mission well, its focus is limited to humid temperate regions. In broadening the scope, Apios looks to incorporate open-source, sample polyculture designs for other climates, soils, and goals, along with a wealth of information on native perennial crops and suitable support species around the world, all crowdsourced from the growers on the ground. Once gathered, the information will be searchable on the updated Apios Institute website.

To get a sense of the current offerings, check out a few wiki pages:

Castanea pumila: Chinquapin chestnut. A sweet and productive bush nut.

Dioscorea polystachya: Chinese yam. A hardy relative of the tropical yams. An excellent perennial vine root crop.

Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture: A high-desert, cold-climate perennial polyculture market garden and demonstration center.

Butternut-Concord Grape: A living trellis polyculture producing nuts and fruit.

Turkish rocket broccoli production polyculture: A productive perennial vegetable system!

The Apios Institute's recent IndieGogo campaign met its goal, with a little extra on top, so look for — or contribute to — the updated wiki soon.