Forests throughout the world are absolutely amazing ecosystems that support an incredible diversity of plants, animals, fungus and invertebrates. These biomes also serve as soil and air “fixers”, balancing carbon dioxide and oxygen while also helping to maintain the soil composition for forest life. Forest networks are so vital to the health of our planet, now imagine, if these forests also provided everything a human needed to thrive too! Throughout Europe, there is a new movement to integrate native, medicinal and edible plants to create a diverse network of utilitarian forests that support local biodiversity and provide food for hundreds or even thousands of people!
Unlike mono-crops and industrial agriculture, these natural communities are resilient to disease and environmental disruptions due to the diversity of plants and animals they attract. This diversity reduces weed growth and pests, cutting out the need for costly and destructive chemicals. For larger scale forest farms, the tree and bush crops can still be grown in rows similar to what you find on many farms, allowing for efficient harvesting. But instead of bare soil, a diversity of plants are grown in the spaces between trees. These elements help make food forests much cheaper and more efficient for people to maintain than similarly sized industrial farms. The best part of all is the fact that even though it is less costly and easier to maintain, farmers are able to produce and harvest many times more food and products from the plot of land than any industrial farm could ever dream of!
This is just a small introduction to food forest and forest farming. Inspired to learn more? Visit the Agroforestry Research Trust. They are one of the best sources for exploring food forests and learning how to start your own.
Read Creating a Forest Garden Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops book my Martin Crawford
Martin Crawford, Agroforestry Research Trust, Dartington, UK
Wouter van Eck, Food Forest Ketelbroek, Groesbeek, the Netherlands
Alfredo Cunhal, Montado do Freixo do Meio, Portugal
Thank you to Guerrilla Foundation for funding this video of solutions.
Video directed and edited by Thomas Regnault
This article was written by Sydney Lindquist.
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