Food Forests Could Bring Healthy Organic Food To Everyone: For Free

Food forests or Forest gardening have been around for a long time with many of the native cultures practicing this form of sustainable agriculture. It is a form of low-maintenance plant-based food production which replicates natural ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, running vines and perennial vegetables. Beneficial plants and companion planting is a big part of the food forest system.

Unlike much of the modern industrial agricultural system which relies heavily of inputs such as fossil fuels and artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, a food forest once established is self-regulating and highly abundant in yield. 

Why Food Forests?

  • Forests are home to approximately 50-90% of all the world’s terrestrial (land-living) biodiversity — including the pollinators and wild relatives of many agricultural crops (Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2010)
  • Tropical forests alone are estimated to contain between 10-50 million species – over 50% of species on the planet.
  • Rainforests cover 2% of the Earth’s surface and 6% of its land mass, yet they are home to over half of the world’s plant and animal species. 

It is evident that forests themselves are synonymous with life, biodiversity and fertility. Where life gathers, complex and mutually beneficial relationships are created between organisms; natural harmonious communities form, and life forms multiply and proliferate. If forests are where most of the life on the planet is, then anything less than a forest is most likely less suited to supporting life. Life supports life, yet we have forgotten that we are in fact part of the web of life itself, and depend on other life to sustain ours.(1)

forestgardenlayers

Unfortunately society has been conditioned to clear the land and create unsustainable fields which need high inputs to be maintained. Food forests are abundant and can yield significantly more than the conventional farming and mono cropping that dominates much of the industrial landscape today. As well as being high yielding food forests are high in biodiversity and life. Food forests can be developed and grown in most climate zones and because they involve vertical stacking are great for suburban and urban areas. Check out this clip to see how a couple have transformed a traditional suburban landscape into a highly productive forest garden.

The Layers Of A Food Forest

1. Canopy or Tall Tree Layer
Typically over 30 feet (~9 meters) high. This layer is for larger Forest Gardens. Timber trees, large nut trees and nitrogen-fixing trees are the typical trees in this category. There are a number of larger fruiting trees that can be used here as well depending on the species, varieties and rootstocks used.

2. Sub-Canopy/Large Shrub Layer
Typically 10-30 feet (3-9 meters) high. In most Forest Gardens, or at least those with limited space, these plants often make up the acting Canopy layer. The majority of fruit trees fall into this layer.

3. Shrub Layer
Typically up to 10 feet (3 meters) high. The majority of fruiting bushes fall into this layer. Includes many nut, flowering, medicinal and other beneficial plants as well.

4. Herbaceous Layer
Plants in this layer die back to the ground every winter… if winters are cold enough, that is. They do not produce woody stems as the Shrub layer does. Many cullinary and medicinal herbs are in this layer. A large variety of other beneficial plants fall into this layer.

5. Groundcover/Creeper Layer
There is some overlap with the Herbaceous layer and the Groundcover layer; however plants in this layer are often shade tolerant, grow much closer to the ground, grow densely to fill bare patches of soil, and often can tolerate some foot traffic.

6. Underground Layer
These are root crops. There are an amazing variety of edible roots that most people have never heard of. Many of these plants can be utilized in the Herbaceous Layer, the Vining/Climbing Layer, and the Groundcover/Creeper Layer.

7. Vertical/Climber Layer
These vining and climbing plants span multiple layers depending on how they are trained or what they climb all on their own. They are a great way to add more productivity to a small space, but be warned. Trying to pick grapes that have climbed up a 60 foot Walnut Tree can be interesting to say the least.

8. Aquatic/Wetland Layer
This is my first new layer to the Forest Garden. Some will say that a forest doesn’t grow in the water, so this layer is inappropriate for the Forest Garden. I disagree. Many forests have streams flowing through or ponds in the center. There are a whole host of plants that thrive in wetlands or at the water’s edge. There are many plants that grow only in water. To ignore this large list of plants is to leave out many useful species that provide food, fiber, medicinals, animal feed, wildlife food and habitat, compost, biomass, and maybe most important, water filtration through bioremediation (or phytoremediation). We are intentionally designing Forest Gardens which incorporate water features, and it is time we add the Aquatic/Wetland Layer to the lexicon.

9. Mycelial/Fungal Layer
This is my second new layer to the Forest Garden. Fungal networks live in healthy soils. They will live on, and even within, the roots of plants in the Forest Garden. This underground fungal network transports nutrients and moisture from one area of the forest to another depending on the needs of the plants. It is an amazing system which we are only just beginning to comprehend. As more and more research is being conducted on how mycelium help build and maintain forests, it is shocking that this layer has not yet been added to the list. In addition to the vital work this layer contributes to developing and maintaining the forest, it will even provide mushrooms from time to time that we can utilize for food and medicine. If we are more proactive, we can cultivate this layer intentionally and dramatically increase our harvest. (2)

Seattle built a food forest, you can see more about that here.

To learn more go to Temperate Climate Permaculture

 

CoverONENOVArticle by Andrew Martin editor of onenesspublishing  and author of  One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

Sources

(1) http://permaculturenews.org/2011/10/21/why-food-forests/

(2) http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/05/27/nine-layers-of-the-edible-forest-garden/

Urban Abundance – 1/2-Acre Urban Property Transformed Into Organic Veggie Gardens

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast off the coast of the United States. This had unforeseen and radical consequences on the price of food. Around 2,900 oil rigs were shut down, disrupting 95% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico — the impact of which lasted several months. While to the casual observer this may not sound terribly remarkable, it had far-reaching consequences that affected millions of people. The price of gasoline, for instance, surged around 40% in a matter of days in some places throughout the U.S.

Mexico, the home of corn, had produced most of its own corn based products for centuries, but in 1994 and with the passing of NAFTA, Mexican farmers found themselves in competition with heavily subsidized U.S. corn farmers. These farmers often sold corn into Mexico at around 20% less than it costs to produce, forcing many Mexican farmers off the land, as they no longer found it profitable to compete with U.S. corn producers. With corn production being diverted into ethanol due to the lack of oil supply after Hurricane Katrina, the Mexican market lacked sufficient supply of corn to meet demand. The price of corn became inextricably linked to the price of oil, as many of the inputs such as fertilizers, fuel, and pesticides used to produce corn rose in lockstep with the rising price of oil. When the price of oil reached $140 a barrel, the price of corn went through the roof, causing food riots in Mexico.

CoverONENOVThe story of Mexican food riots and shortages is a cautionary tale that could happen anywhere. With a variety of geopolitical and resource constraints affecting the ability to provide food for local communities, it is important we start to learn how to grow and produce our own food and become more self-sufficient in general.

A Story of Resilience — Building Resilience 

Filmmaker Jordan Osmond suggests, “This model of a hub is a really great example of the kinds of changes that need to be made in urban areas. The idea to use revenue from the business to find volunteer work helps create food resilience, builds community, provides affordable healthy food, and works towards making the town less reliant unsustainable imported goods that are shipped from all over the world.”

His film was produced as part of the ‘Living the Change’ project, a series of 12 short films and 1 feature-length documentary that explores solutions to the problems we’re facing today. To find out more, go to Living the Change.

Check out this inspiring story of change….

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, author of  One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future… he is also editor of www.onenesspublishing.com

CoverONENOVSources: Happen Films 

20 Indicators That Signal You May Be Living In The Matrix & How To Unplug Yourself

Morpheus: “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” –The Matrix

Whether you are aware of it or not, many in the West are born, grow, and die a slave to the Matrix. The 1999 cult movie of the same name starring Keanu Reeves questions what is real and what is simulated reality. While purely a fictitious work by the Wachowskis brothers, the movie touches on themes which challenge the current model of society and points to the problem of indoctrination and a lack of awareness amongst the populace. In search of answers, the mild-mannered Neo, a computer programmer, meets Morpheus, who tries to explain the Matrix. On entering the room Morpheus asks Neo, “Do you want to know what it is?” He explains…

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work. or you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. – The Matrix

Having tried to extract myself from the rat race and city living many years ago, I found myself experiencing my own version of the Matrix on a recent trip to Sydney (coincidentally where they filmed much of the movie). I decided to document some of the more obvious things that stood out to me after having been somewhat unplugged from the Matrix.

To clarify, I personally define the Matrix as a set of beliefs, cultural norms, attitudes, and conditioned states which are pervasive throughout society. These are initially created under an economic rationale which offer products and services to citizens. To promote these goods and services various themes, ideas, and ideologies are promoted to establish compliance and persuade individuals to partake in consumptive patterns. Along the way, this information becomes embedded within a society, creating cultural norms and distracting individuals and society from the truth. As individuals living in a society, we become subservient to authority and start conforming to certain illogical cultural constructs. Eventually, like a fish swimming in the ocean, we are unaware of the water that surrounds us, we become unaware of the Matrix…

Twenty  indicators that signal you may be living in the Matrix & How To Unplug Yourself

1. You spend most of your time devoted to paying off a mortgage rather than enjoying life.

2. You can’t wait for the weekend to come.  

3. You judge your success by the car you drive, the suburb you live in, and the size of the house you own.

4. The wealthy are rewarded for plundering the earth while those trying to save it are ridiculed.

5. You work in a job you don’t enjoy, thinking the money you earn will offset the misery of working in a job or career you are not passionate about. 

6. You think that by a taking a pill your ills will be cured.

7. You think that someone focused on eating healthy, organic fresh foods is weird, while eating highly processed, nutrient devoid foods is normal. 

8. You think buying stuff will make you happy.

9. You watch the news on television and think this is the truth.

10. You’re more focused on your favourite sports team than concerned about the natural world and environment on which you depend for survival.

11. You believe growth and the development of the economy is a good thing and that globalization creates jobs.

12. You conform with the status quo and never question why things are done.  

13. You think traffic congestion, pollution, and sensory overload are part of normal everyday life.

14. You think there is a difference between political parties and that they will enact real change. 

15. You think there are terrorists around every corner and they are a threat to you and your community, despite the fact that you have 150 times more chances of being hit by lightning than being involved in a terrorist attack.

16. You think eating genetically modified food and eating fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticides is OK.

17. You think the mainstream media is independent and unbiased.

18. You think constant distraction through the media such as sport, trivial affairs, and celebrity gossip is news.

19. You think living next to a cell tower is cool because you get better reception.

20. You wait in line for the next release of the latest technological gadget

1. Eat Healthy Organic Foods

Consider incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet and eliminating processed packaged foods. Eating a healthy whole food diet facilitates the cleansing of the body of unwanted toxins, and can contribute to greater clarity of mind and increased physical and mental health, as well as reducing your chances of developing degenerative diseases later in life. Living with clarity is the first step to realizing your true potential and freeing yourself from the system. This also makes you less (or non) reliant on the industrialized food system, pharmaceutical grade drugs and the conventional medical system.

2. Downsize Your Life

As housing affordability deteriorates and economies continue to contract, more and more people are seeking alternative ways of living. With most Western nations spending one-third to more than half of their income on housing (mortgage repayments), living small offers greater freedom to the alternative of being tied to a mortgage for decades. There are many options for simple living today with choices including a combination of micro-apartments, tiny houses, yurts, container homes, shipping containers, and customised small homes, all offering affordable and sustainable housing. Prefabricated tiny homes can cost the same price as a new car, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. If you want to build your own tiny home this can be even more cost effective. See: Living Big in A Tiny House

3. Get In Touch With Nature

Over recent years, urbanization has increased, to the point where more people live in high density urban environments than at any time in history. This has alienated many from the natural world. Connection to the land and natural environment has been replaced by freeways, cities, and concrete landscapes, which bring little solace and opportunity for reflection for individuals. Inner peace and happiness can be hard to find in a world of constant diversion and distraction. M. Sanjayan, Ph.D., lead scientist for “The Nature Conservancy,” outlines how humans are integrally connected with nature: “For 5 million years, humans depended on nature for just about everything, including food, shelter, and the regulation of sleep cycles. It is only in the last fifty years people have become less connected to nature with much of the global population living in large urban centres.” Studies have shown that people need some connection with nature. Getting out of artificial environments helps with overall health and well-being, supporting a stronger immune system as well as stimulating creativity.

4. Become Involved With or Move to an Ecovillage

The ecovillage movement offers a model which requires a paradigm shift from the take, make, waste mentality pervasive throughout our Western culture and economy. The ecovillage movement aims to foster local production and longterm sustainability by maintaining economically and ecologically sustainable communities. The movement tries to integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments. Ecovillages range in size from small villages of fifty to a couple of thousand people. Designed to be self-governing, ecovillages try to create employment and a greater sense of community. Many incorporate and offer services such as libraries, forests, gardens and orchards. Energy supplies and community based entertainment in the form of markets and festivals are also features of ecovillages. See: http://gen.ecovillage.org/

5. Try WWOOFING

WWOOFing is an acronym for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” or “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.” It is a network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. The WWOOF model is simple. WWOOF hosts provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods. WWOOF volunteers generally do not receive financial payment, instead exchanging their assistance with farming or gardening for food, accommodation, and the opportunity to learn.

WWOOFing is a great way to see your own country or other countries and learn about local culture relatively inexpensively. It allows you to meet like-minded people and learn new skills, and you can specify how long you wish to stay at a host’s residence. This can range from anywhere from a week or two to many months. There are some awesome retreats and communal living properties which host WWOOFers. The great thing about the WWOOF experience is that you never know who you will meet or where this might take you. See: http://wwoofinternational.org/

6. Learn About Landshare/Shared Earth

Landshare is a growing movement which brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivation. Since its launch through “River Cottage” in 2009 it has grown into a thriving community of more than 60,000 growers, sharers, and helpers. Landshare has spread to numerous countries including Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and the U.S., connecting people who want to grow their own fruit and veg (but don’t have anywhere to do it) with people who have land to spare. If there isn’t a Landshare set up in your region this may present an opportunity to develop. Similarly, Shared Earth (based in the U.S.) is a free online service connecting land with gardeners. There are an estimated 10 million acres of front and back yards in America alone which are unproductive. These could be put to better use than simply growing grass!

7. Reassess Where You Live

During the start of the industrial revolution people moved from smaller rural and regional areas to larger cities. Today, the most urbanized regions of the world include Northern America (82 per cent living in urban areas in 2014), Latin America and the Caribbean (80 per cent), and Europe (73 per cent). This rapid transformation from rural to urban has occurred over the last century, correlating with the growth and exploitation of fossil fuels and the abundance of cheap oil. Increasing populations have driven demand for real estate in certain cities, making many unaffordable. Cities can be expensive places to live and it is easy to become trapped in a never ending cycle of debt. Opportunities exist for a re-ruralization of certain areas. With the average age of farmers increasing in most countries there will need to be a new breed of Permaculture trained people and eco farmers. In many countries, rural communities have dwindled and or been abandoned entirely. This presents opportunities for those wishing to make a change from an urban environment to rebuild and create a new future.

8. Become Involved With or Help Establish a Cooperative

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession, co-ops have been recognized for their resilience. They have the ability to preserve jobs and economic infrastructure and support rural communities. Across the globe there are people working to rebuild local and regional food systems, and co-ops have a unique role to play. A food cooperative or food co-op is another model of food distribution coordinated and operated by members. Like most cooperative models they follow a number of principles designed to facilitate more socially responsible interactions. The primary distinction of a cooperative is that they are not influenced by external shareholders, being strictly managed by members. See: http://ica.coop/

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, editor of onenesspublishing  and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…  and Rethink…Your world, Your future.

RethinkcoverCE2Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

 

 

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