Modularity "is a design approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules, that can be independently created and then used in different systems. A modular system can be characterized by functional partitioning into discrete scalable, reusable modules"
Eessentially successfull systems have interchangable components that can be built, maintained or replaced without the whole system failing or having to replacing the entire thing. Like a car, you can replace the tire and dont have to buy a whole new car, and you have lots of choices for which tire to pick!.
The same lessons can be applied to farm. Looking at a living Food Forest as a combination of various modular pieces enables us to assess the performance of the Forest on piece by piece level. This is especially helpful across multiple small sites. The Greenleaf Community Farm is spread across multiple sites, with very different topography and sizes. Not only are we loosing out on the scale of our system compared with large scale farming, we are also at a disadvantage from our location, or, well, multiple locations. The complexity of multiple small site farming means we must be well organized with a very specific plan.
With that in mind we developed our farming program with a modular approach to site analysis. When reviewing a parcel of land, we divided up the installation options to 9 core modules. These are the only modules we install which enables consistency across multiple sites and improves coordination. It also has the benefit of being able to analyze one module, say a Berry Patch at Foxwood Apartments for example and then we can disuss the Berry Patches as a whole to assess their performance and success in the garden environment. If we find an issue on one site in one module, we can quickly adapt and fix it before it occurs on another site. This is like diversification in your stock portfolio! We are able to use a perceived weakness as an advantage for our whole system.
Modular Components of a Food Forest
Greenleaf Community Farm is run by, you guessed it, farmers. Our skills are honed in the art making things turn green and growing food!