Nature takes care and grows plants for more than 460 million years, and trees for 370 million years. The fossil records say that human beings appeared in Africa 195 thousand years ago, and they thrived on nature’s bounty.
After the early 1900s, it began a new era of growing food crops, monoculture, and single-crop farming.
Rotating crops instead to restore nutrients to the soil, it gets depleted. The human as a solution to this uses chemicals and fertilizer, disrupting the natural habitat in the process.
Nature was doing its job correctly, and our ancestors followed her and her example. Until the single crop idea was presented, and thank God, many people realized that if we work with nature, we can make forest gardens for food. Those foods are designed to imitate the ecosystem of the environment and to restore our soil.
A forest gardening pioneer, Martin Crawford, located in the UK, clarifies everything in a short movie by Thomas Regnault.
What we think of as normal, in terms of food production, is actually not normal at all. Annual plants are very rare in nature, yet most of our agricultural fields are filled with annual plants. It’s not normal. What’s normal is a more forested or semi-forested system.
The forest gardens will represent a natural ecosystem if we use perennial plants and trees that have a long lifetime, or they reseed themselves. With these techniques, the garden will have different vertical levels of growth, including tall canopy trees, shorter trees, shrubs and bushes, vines, herbs, some ground cover, and roots. All of the levels work together, so they offer shade, protection from the wind, support, and nutrition.
To have a forest garden requires a start that takes time, work and money, but once it is over, it will take care of itself for many years, and it will require very little attention and plenty of harvests.
Furthermore, Crawford says that in an environment with a diverse system, the weather change won’t affect the crop, and they will do fine. There are exclusions, but the different methods will provide us the maximum resilience because we don’t know what is going to happen with our weather.
With such a diverse system, whatever happens with the weather, most of your crops will probably do fine. Some may fail, some may do better. That’s very important going into the future. Because we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to our weather. So by having a diverse system, it gives you maximum resilience.
In 1994 Crawford began with his food forest, placed on a flat field, and today it is transformed into a gorgeous, thriving garden that consists of more than 500 edible plants. He claims that it is effortless to maintain it, only a few hours’ treatments in a month, and you will have the same garden. The gardener adds that it will grow better in a forest garden than in a cultivated garden.
Besides, we are fortunate that many pioneers, similar to Crawford and many other enthusiastic personas, have done many kinds of surveys and researches, and they will share their results and discoveries to help us create our food forest garden.
The food forest can take so many different species. And Crawford advises us to start the forest garden, and the fact that we don’t know everything to begin, mustn’t stop us. We need to start by planting some trees, and after we will know what to do.
Below, we present to you the film, and you can also check The Agroforestry Research Trust. As additional information, Crawford is the founder and director of the previously mentioned page.