Food forests: a solution to the problem of hunger

Food forests: a solution to the problem of hunger

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In different parts of the world, large areas of land are unused and, in the opinion of many, it is because it is unusable. But this did not stop permaculturist Geoff Lawton from crafting a simple methodology by which degraded land can be turned into a forest. He traveled to Jordan, one of the lowest places in the world, with a salty desert, and turned it into a productive food forest.

This raises many questions about whether countries with similar climatic conditions should provide land for the creation of food forests to feed their populations instead of importing food on a large scale. This also raises questions about how much food a forest will produce and whether the returns from this will exceed the costs of other projects (such as real estate) that can be applied on this type of land.

“You could solve all the problems in the world in a garden. You can solve pollution and all the needs you have in a garden, but people still don't know this, ”says Lawton.

Food forests could be the precursors of a return to an agropolis-type lifestyle, a system that provides food security with low prices, minimizing the distance that food travels and reducing the carbon footprint of its entire production process.

A new project in Seattle, USA, has shown that food forests can be created on a large scale. A 7-acre public park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, it has become the first food forest ready to establish itself in the country. Hundreds of different foods will be planted on this land, all available for public consumption.

A complete food forest on public land takes urban agriculture to a new level. It is based on the concept of permaculture, which means that these edible gardens will be self-sustaining, just like wild forests.

Permaculture is these days a relatively new movement, based on the sustainable use of the land and that allows working with nature to generate productive, intelligent, resistant and integrated spaces that maximize benefits and minimize waste. The city of Calgary in Canada offers another example of successful food forests. One of the townspeople, Rob Avis, saw one of the videos of Lawton's journey into Jordan and said it was a source of inspiration.

Not long after, Avis turned his backyard into a food forest to feed his family and friends. He planted a highly organized, multi-layered food forest that functions as a wild forest and is virtually self-sustaining.

“We are surrounded by land that can potentially grow good, healthy food for people who don't have resources,” says Avis.

Avis suggests that while people complain about urban sprawl, they ignore food that must travel long distances from production to your plate.

“We have all this land. Someday, we can turn our cities into the farms of the future, ”says Avis.

Seattle's food forest is using land that was once part of a public park, most of it covered in grass. Avis views yard grass and lawns as a waste of productive space.

"A system of grasses and lawns perpetuates the concept of food scarcity," he says.

He notes that about 40 million acres of land in the United States are planted annually, and he estimates that the per capita rate of grass in Canada is about the same. Their calculations show that 40 million acres is enough to feed 300 million people on a 2,000 calorie diet for 2 years with a single harvest.

While some people may show concerns about how safe food grown in a highly polluted environment is, it is quite possible that it is no more dangerous than regular food and only needs an initial wash.

The biggest safety concern has to do with the terrain itself, not what's in the air. Obviously, soil testing needs to be a priority when implementing these types of projects on public lands.

There is no doubt that urban agriculture and landscape architecture are transforming our cities little by little. Perhaps in the near future, vegetarian tents will be replaced by a walk with a basket, picking fruits and vegetables from a food forest.

By Silvio Sánchez Arango

Video: Permaculture: Discovering solutions hidden in nature. Graham Calder. TEDxMontreal (June 2022).


  1. Faiion

    as well as all, and the variants?

  2. Roswalt

    Congratulations, I think this is a brilliant idea.

  3. Nejind

    Thanks for the post, and this is the topic

  4. Dougul

    Nice sentence

  5. Mahuizoh

    Nice question

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