Patience, patience, patience... I keep having to repeat to myself. See three years ago we purchased an old farmhouse in Kansas that had just under an acre. Wasn't much of anything. The soil was dead (modern american horticultural practices, yuck... but that is a whole different topic). Since we moved in its been a long process. We knew we wanted a Forest garden. Step one plant the future canopy level while simultaneously preventing the further erosion of the precious top soil layer.
The canopy level will primarily exist of varying species of Phyllostachys bamboo. It's fast growing, edible, and since we heat our home with a wood stove it will also serve as a high BTU fuel source. Not to mention when full grown and developed it will help protect our yard and home from wind and storm damage (seriously tho I have seen Bamboo handle hurricane force winds like it was nothing). This is a waiting game, I need patience while it grows and spreads and begins the process of terraforming our yard. Did I mention when said and done, this should bump us into a different growing zone while providing us with precious biomass for the compost. Now we are also planting Aspen, Paw Paws, Apricot, Juniper (well this was a sickly transplant I just had to save), Blue Spruce (same as the Juniper), Sichuan Pepper trees, and possibly a cold hardy banana.
We have also been planting the shrub layer, revitalizing the properties existing lilacs bushes that sat unloved for over ten years. I even cut and cloned the neighbors white blooming lilacs and they successfully rooted. Enter Wisteria, Purple leaved plum hedge, and forsythia some of our shrub layer.
In the meantime for two years now, we have mulched, innoculated (mushrooms), composted, and seeded (yes we have been cultivating a lawn which will consist of alfafa and rye). Finally its starting to pay off, the yard is looking greener, barren eroded spots are filling in while at the same time giving me much needed biomass for the compost bin to feed the plants again.
We hope to add vermiculture, chicken and rabbits to the mix in the near future. Now I know this is a longer running project but I am just having a blast with it.