How Much Does It Cost To Grow a Food Forest?

If you have 1 acre of land it will cost anywhere between $5000- $10,000 to set up your food forest in five years. This includes the cost of materials, water, and the purchase of plant seedlings.

If you do not own land, you have to spend a significant amount on leasing or purchasing a space to grow your food garden. The cost of growing a food forest rises if you include the cost of land.

cost of food forest- land

 The initial stages of setting up a food forest are labor-intensive, so you will need to hire helpers to assist on the farm if you have more than an acre. You can save a few coins by recruiting family and friends.

You have to account for the cost of preparing the land, which depends on the sizes of holes you have to dig for planting, the soil conditions you are digging into, and the time limitation for setting up the food forest. 

But don’t let the costs bog you down. Food forests can be profitable.

Setting up your food forest

The cost of plants depends on the type of trees, shrubs, and general understory in your food forest. You can however minimize the cost of tree planting, by purchasing the seeds and planting them yourself instead of purchasing seedlings from a tree nursery.

seedlings for forest garden

This process will however increase your labor as you will have to take care of the seedlings until they sprout and reach a level of growth where they do not require much attention. 

Bare root beds, planting seedlings directly into the soil, do not require tree sacks which cost more. Typically, bare-root trees cost around $20 or more. This means that you can use over $2,000 to plant 100 trees on your farm. You will also use less space compared to tree sacks. 

Fencing costs

Additionally, you have to fence your forest garden. A dead fence of barbed wire and wooden beams is very costly. New fencing costs between $5 and $16 per linear foot. Therefore, you spend approximately $9,000 to fence one acre of land.

You can opt for barbed wire which costs around $1,000 per acre or split rail wood which goes for around $7,000 per acre. For one acre, you need between 800-900 linear feet of fencing material. 

Treated pine is the most affordable material for fencing and it is very durable. Cedar is more expensive while teak is on the high end of fencing material. Brick and stone fences are the most expensive for fencing your land. Timber is cost-effective and low maintenance but you might have to replace it after a while. 

You need to protect your food forest from unwanted human and wildlife contact. The fencing is extremely necessary, especially in the initial stages of planting and seed germination. The cost of fencing your land depends on the materials you are using, labor, and maintenance. 

You can cut fencing costs by using a living fence composed of dense shrubs and trees around the perimeter of your land. Living fences also produce food, fodder, and other raw materials that can be vital for your food garden. Further, they are valuable as windbreaks, protecting soil against damage caused by winds. 

Cost of growing a food forest in your backyard

You have limited space in your home, and you intend to plant a food forest. For 150 square meters, you will use approximately 800$ to set up the food forest. This includes the purchase of tools and the cost of tree seedlings and other food crop seeds. 

However, you have to spend a lot on water and irrigation during the initial stages of planting. It costs around $1,600 for portable water on one acre of land. This caters to around 1 inch of water. Vegetables planted during the growing season might need around the application of 2 to 3ft of water. 

Tree seedlings need a lot of attention and watering in their early stages of germination. Once you have a working food forest, your costs of irrigation and maintenance go down significantly, since it becomes self-sustaining. 

Cost of maintaining your food forest

Once you have planted your plants properly in the ground, you only have to do minimal work to help establish the plants. If you plan well, you have a good foundation for speedy plant establishment. A food forest is self-monitoring, so you will not have to spend on weeding, tree pruning, or general tilling on the garden. 


Generally, the high costs of growing a food forest are felt in setting up and germinating the seedlings. After your food forest has established itself well, your spending reduces and you can start benefiting and earning from your plants. 

A major challenge for many prospective food forest farmers is the high costs of investments. If you have a large farm, you will spend around 10,000$ to acquire tools, and seedlings, fence your land and pay your helpers. Nevertheless, in a home garden, these costs are reduced significantly but it will still need a sizeable financial investment to get started.