The gardens of the future

This is a picture of food forest pioneer Robert Hart in his very own forest garden.

This is a picture of food forest pioneer Robert Hart in his very own forest garden.

Lianys Olmeda, Staff Writer

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A sustainable and innovative agricultural method of producing food called forest gardening brings us a new way in which we can live more environmentally friendly lives. “Forest gardening is creating a garden that is deliberately planted to mimic a natural forest ecosystem, except that the species chosen are mainly edible rather than (or as well as) decorative” (lowimpact.org). Instead of the traditional rows of monoculture where only one crop is cultivated in a given area, forest gardens incorporate a variety of edible plants such as fruits, nut trees, perennial vegetables and other plants that help the ecosystem thrive, like vines and shrubs in a natural way. These all combine to make a harmonious environment that also provides food. This way of obtaining food from the land without harming it originated in prehistoric times and is still a common practice in places such as India, Sri Lanka and even Mexico. However, agriculture in most of the modern world remains based on deforestation and monoculture. Nevertheless, in the past few years the practice has been spreading. Robert Hart visited tropical forest gardens and used his knowledge to grow the first temperate forest garden during the 1970s in Shropshire, England. His work has inspired the forest gardening movement in the UK and people have added to his work and research. One such person is member of the Agroforestry Research Trust Martin Crawford, who also has a forest garden in the UK.

Martin Crawford, one of the pioneers for forest gardening, started out with just a flat field in 1994. Eventually his land was transformed into a forest full of 500 edible plants and now serves as a resource for others who are interested in forest gardening to learn more about the subject. Even though Crawford’s forest garden is singularly impressive and a major source in the new agricultural movement, there are other gardens that have popped up in the U.S. as well. Unfortunately, though, there are only 63 recorded food forests in the U.S., but the concept and idea behind this new sustainable way of living and producing food is growing. There are many benefits to forest gardening such as: they are low maintenance once they’re established, the food they provide promote good health since they’re nutrient rich, they’re great for wildlife and creating a variety of habitats and many more. In a world where global warming and climate change has become such a discussed and concerning topic, this agricultural movement brings hope for a more sustainable future.

 

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