The two practices may produce the same products, but key differences exist between them. Forest farming is more sedentary in that it is practiced through deliberate cultivation under an established forest canopy. It requires planning, inputs, and farming activities like tilling, planting, and management. Wild crafting is more nomadic, requiring the wild crafter to search through the forest for the desired product. Consequently, finding the product, as well as the quantity of the product, is not guaranteed.
The inputs required to forest farm a product like ginseng may include clearing woody debris, removing understory trees and shrubs, tilling the soil, and removing weeds and other competitive plants. Forest farming may consist of either of two methods, known as “woods grown” and “wild simulated.” Woods grown is the process of growing plants in prepared beds under the trees, which are either raised or in the ground. Wild simulated is defined as random planting of individual plants under the trees in selected areas with random spacing between plants. Wild simulated does not include any bed preparation, soil tilling, weeding, etc. All wild companion plants are left undisturbed.
In contrast, the start-up time and overhead required for wild crafting are negligible. One drawback to wild crafting is that it is not necessarily sustainable. Wild crafters may not be in control of available resources, and longevity of wild crafting is not guaranteed. Wild crafting is often seasonal because either the product is not available all year or demand is not there year-round. Wild crafting takes products that are found and with minimal work turns them into something marketable. With forest farming you will need to input money and time and wait to grow your produce. But in terms of controlled longevity, forest farming has a greater chance of sustaining and adding profits to your farm.