Food forests are a possible option for a more sustainable future. Ancient methods of sustainability could fulfill an element necessary in converting our ecologically unsound cities into healthy habitats for all.
Imagine ancient travelers forging ahead on a route older than the human concept of time. Where do they stop? What do they eat? One possible answer is the food forest, a system that forms a mutually supportive bond between humans and nature. These travelers did not just forge ahead…they foraged ahead.
The road along the ancient trade route provided food for the hungry traveler. It didn’t destroy.
In the case of food crops, a polyculture tries to set up conditions where you can eat almost continually out of a garden bed filled with different varieties of plants maturing at different times.
Imagine the blank spots in a city where soil is still exposed to sky and sun.
Imagine these small areas planted with polyculture food forests. Imagine converted backyard plots expanding to follow the waterways, natural or canal. Imagine the plots extending through the city’s narrow hedgerows, backyards, waterways and median strips. Imagine the residents near these plots caretaking them. Imagine these food forest plots providing for the community directly from the land, free of charge. Imagine the canopy returning. Imagine our cities converted into living green space that protects us from climate and provides us with sustenance.
Can we replant up Eden?
What powers life? How do sunlight and nutrients affect the plants we depend on? How do greenhouse gases and other contaminants degrade the interactions among the plant, animal, and microbial populations that comprise ecosystems?
A food forest is ecosystem ecology in action that supports itself, and at the same time feeds a community. All the flora and fauna share in balanced interactions that enable survival over vast periods of time, while providing food and medicine for humans. Initially, humans create a food forest with the goal that the forest must eventually sustain itself without direct human stewardship.
Only in recent times have local human communities began to lose the ability to sustain themselves directly from the ecosystem. For the rest of the time humans have lived as a beneficial part of the environment and acted as caretakers for the system.
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