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Food forests, climate change, and who's going to eat!  RSS feed

 
gardener
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You can graft fruit to them. The Che fruit I think.

Also , they are medicinal. This guy, Edward Group, is really impressive I think.

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-the-osage-tree/

John S
PDX OR
 
steward
Posts: 1353
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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I haven't had any success with growing them up here in NW Montana. I was hoping to develop a source for the wood to use for bowyer work. It is a long term idea, something to work on with my grandkids.
 
pollinator
Posts: 439
Location: Western Kenya
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We are entering into our seasonal drought here in western Kenya... which has me thinking about climate change and food security.  It also leaves me with more time on my hands for reading threads like this.

I live in a place that is always on the edge of food insecurity.  It takes only the slightest deviation to push them over into hunger and starvation.  And let me tell you, they WILL and DO steal from the farm.  I've not experienced "zombie hordes", but individuals up to groups of six or seven.  Hungry children will often run in "packs" and work together to steal from farmers.  They do a considerable amount of damage, and can cause heavy losses.  This is a village full of farmers, but none of them are doing very well, and none of them seem to PLAN for this dry season.  This particular drought is not "climate change", its a normal, seasonal cycle.  But the whole area is shocked by it every single year... and every single year they start crying that there is no food, appealing to the government for aid, etc. etc. 

So, I don't know if we are going to get clobbered by climate change.  It really doesn't change how I go about working my farm, restoring the soil, and trying to conserve water... I figure I'm already doing the right things.  I do wish I could interest other farmers in trying to farm in a sustainable, restorative way.  Then they would have plenty of their OWN food, and wouldn't need to steal mine.

The one thing I would say, which may not apply so much to Americans, but I have spent a lot of time researching indigenous and native crops.  Many indigenous varieties have gone "out of fashion" with farmers here, who are becoming more and more dependant on Western staples like corn, soy, and wheat. Its just not "cool" to eat taro root, pumpkin, or cassava.  When it comes to bananas, people are ditching the traditional indigenous varieties and turning to big-ag tissue culture bananas.  Although it was once a staple, I couldn't find a pigeon pea seed to save my life.  I had to go buy a bag intended for eating from the supermarket in a big city.  The thing about the indigenous and traditional food crops - they are already well adapted to the climate, the soils, etc.  They don't need any fertilizers and aren't susceptable to pests, and not to mention that they are probably hundreds of times more nutritious than their western-monsanto counterparts.  When nature throws a curve ball, all the "imports" that my neighboring villagers are cultivating die off, but my indigenous crops hardly blink.  Many of them keep producing, even during this seasonal drought, as long as their roots are established before the rains stop.  I feel the indigenous food crops are my ticket to food security.  And, they are less likely to be stolen by the hordes, because hardly any of them know what they are any more!
 
gardener
Posts: 203
Location: Morongo Valley
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John Elliott wrote: Bottom line, the people who are going to eat will be the ones who know what there is to eat.  Knowledge is the key.



Totally agree, and I would emphasize something that John did demonstrate in his example - that in addition to knowing what to eat, knowing how to prepare it is key.

Great points.
 
gardener
Posts: 818
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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one of Bill's observations in starting permaculture
was that in the "hunter/gatherer" societies he studied
they grew planted/grew/managed 80%+ of what they ate
they didn't wander around like the proverbial blind squirrel
finding acorns

if one is worries about the zombies finding your food forest stash
plant stuff everywhere so you can wander around and find food
and still avoid the zombies.

the zombies are likely to go toward where someone is living
rather than the big dark woods
 
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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The zombie Hoard won't even be able to make it more than a few miles outside of the major cities where they reside.  They'll either kill each other off on the freeways, or die of exhaustion.

I'm betting long before they find someone's "food forrest" they'll be learning how to prepare the other zombies for consumption.  Yes, they will.  It's happened before, it will happen again.

 
pollinator
Posts: 692
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Neil Layton wrote:The impact of climate change on food supplies has been one of the major drivers ... a move to south-west Ireland because it's at the end of the inevitable migration routes of what will become increasingly desperate people ... The major texts on Permaculture and forest garden design do talk about climate as a question to be considered when designing our gardens, but rarely talk in detail about climate change, so I thought I'd start a thread to discuss how we make our forest gardens more climate disruption resistant, through things like better design for flood, drought and other extreme events, and the questions of plant breeding (including the advantages of growing more resistant strains through deliberate neglect). How do you make your food forest resistant to the depredations of hungry people? ...


Hi Neil. I started reacting, before I read other comments.
My reaction is not an answer to your questions. That's because I think in a different way. In one point we both agree: a disaster is coming. Your thought is: how can I, myself, survive the disaster?
My thought is: what can I do to help planet Earth and every creature living on it? I think of permaculture as a way to make the impact of the disaster as small as possible. Of course I want to survive ... but the idea of not helping as much others as possible survive too does not at all appeal to me.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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I agree, Inge,
I try to build the metaphorical ladders of food attainment.
I help people ID mushrooms, graft trees, forage for food and build gardens.
There are some people who don't really want to climb the ladder though. They want you to give them food.
I gently point the way up the ladder so THEY can learn how to get more food.
I don't pretend it's easy or without effort, but I do stress that it's worthwhile, and now is the time to build skills, not when you are already starving.
John S
PDX OR
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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John Saltveit wrote:I agree, Inge,
I try to build the metaphorical ladders of food attainment.
I help people ID mushrooms, graft trees, forage for food and build gardens.
There are some people who don't really want to climb the ladder though. They want you to give them food.
I gently point the way up the ladder so THEY can learn how to get more food.
I don't pretend it's easy or without effort, but I do stress that it's worthwhile, and now is the time to build skills, not when you are already starving.


That's true John. Not everybody wants to 'climb the ladder'. Here at the community garden we find out sometimes someone has 'harvested' while the (volunteer) workers weren't there. That isn't a problem, this garden is free for everyone. But the goal is to be educative ... people do not learn how to grow their own food by only picking the products, while others did the work. 

Several times in this thread I read about people who do not recognise vegetables growing in the garden, food-forest, or in the wild. But here, in this small town in a rural region, most people do know vegetables, also the people who don't like doing the efforts to grow them.
 
Posts: 173
Location: Zone 8b Portland
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A few people mentioned they're growing Chinese mountain yam. Maybe this is slightly off topic but does anyone know if gophers go after yams? I imagine the answer is yes but I can't seem to find anywhere where someone has mentioned it. I got my hands on some tubers and I don't want to risk all of them if gophers love them.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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I grew the Chinese mountain yam here in Portland. I didn't realize that the yam itself was so deep in the soil and often needed more than a year to attain size. By the time I realized it, I moved.
John S
PDX OR
 
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The Climate changes and changes very fast. Glaciers melt, very often hurricanes, typhoons happen. Even in regions where they were not used to occur. Earthquakes occur for 500 times a day (you can watch it here  https://allatra.tv/en/earthquakes ). A heavy shower happens in the Sahara desert. Among a coast of the Arctic Ocean, the temperature had risen to 90°F on 5th of July. The humankind shall unite and become one big family to be prepared for surprises which are waiting for us.
 
Posts: 52
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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Steven Kovacs wrote:

Interesting!  Which landscaping plants are edible?



The ones in my garden are: sempervivum (hen and chicks, I think it’s called colloquially), aquilegia/Columbine, Lady’s Mantle, roses, marigolds, nasturtiums, evening primrose, honesty, hosta... Not all parts of all plants are edible and they may have undesirable effects in large doses. However, they might also provide important trace nutrients, so are useful with or without climate change.
 
Helen Butt
Posts: 52
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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Neil Layton wrote:

Jan White wrote:

I also can't help but think that the kind of person who hoards and looks after only their own is also the kind of person who would end up taking from others when their luck ran out.  They've already shown a lack of empathy by not helping others when they had enough to give, and that would only get worse if they were desperate.  So yeah - not going there.  We're going to have to disagree on this one I suppose.



I tend to take a position closer to Jan's on this matter. I mean, I'd always expect some losses to birds and squirrels, and that's broadly okay when you are living in an ecosystem rather than conducting mainstream monoculture farming - indeed to me it's part of the point. I would certainly expect to be feeding surpluses to the nearest village, and that is also part of the point.

Where it becomes more complicated is when the Zombie Horde turns up and strips the place bare. If, or more likely when, the food distribution networks crack there are going to be a lot of people looking for an alternative. I've been torn between the desire to create a forest garden that is an educational demonstration site open to the public and my own tendency towards a need for privacy, and that equation is complicated by the awareness that there are those who will come and take, as has been pointed out. Equally, I'm eternally surprised by how many people can't recognise a potato plant, never mind tell the difference between oats, barley and wheat, and this goes back to Joseph's point. A good forest garden will contain many plants most people won't recognise as food.

I'm a big fan of guerrilla gardening, but I think it has its limitations when it comes to feeding a town: yes, a few people might get a few meals out of it, but you can't live on it.



Here in Leeds we have a forest garden (Bedford Fields) which is open to the public 14/7, 365 days a year. The person who set it up persuaded the council to let the redundant land be used for this purpose.

I have no data on how well frequented this garden is but I have certainly never seen it stripped of its goodies. Except perhaps the raspberries.

On the other hand, in my village, just outside Leeds, we have a community garden with an orchard. The orchard is on Canal and Waterways Trust property and the last time I looked it was fenced off. I spoke to the RHS in Bloom people, who look after the orchard, about approaching the trust re getting the fence taken down and now I need to get down to the orchard and see if there has been a change to access. However, last autumn the orchard was laden and no one was picking the fruit.

The part of the garden with soft fruits (yes, it is not a forest garden) is open access and I understand that a couple of years ago, a person turned up with a van and stripped the lot!!!

Maybe the moral of the story is to avoid growing soft fruits if you want to share the crop as well as eating some yourself.

The good news for me is that just a few minutes walk from my house is a country park (i.e. somewhat managed countryside, growing on the site of a former coal mine). Here there are blackberries and rose hips galore. I’m tempted to try a bit of gorrilla gardening here but I suspect it will be removed as an invasion of the natural order of things.
 
Posts: 298
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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In my opinion, at most, you need to consider adding one new variety of each fruit, for instance, you grow. Add an Arkansas Black apple tree, keep your same peaches, add one rabbiteye blueberry. I'm not going to plant out an orange tree here in Pennsylvania. I'm not going to try to grow coffee or bananas. A subtle shift is all that might happen in any individuals gardens. You don't want to plant for your heirs, well maybe with pears!

Myself, this year, I planted a Black Oxford, a Redfield, and a MacIntosh apple from my grafts and a Red Rome seedling. If anything I pushed my planting northward as the Black Oxford is considered best in zone 4-5. The MacIntosh is said to grow best in the northeast. At my age I'm more worried about seeing the fruits of my labor than any change in climate.


 
Helen Butt
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Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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Tyler Ludens wrote: From my experience, Jerusalem Artichoke is only marginally drought tolerant in my locale.  I grow it in the irrigated garden.  But things like drought tolerance are very locale-specific.  We haven't really learned to like it.

I'm always interested in people's experience with unusual foods, and wish folks would post more about how they prepare them, how much a part of their diet they make up, and if their families enjoy them.



Same here - my Jerusalem artichokes will bounce back once it rains in the autumn,  but if it didn’t they would need irrigation to provide a crop in the winter.

I can tolerate Jerusalem artichokes if they are stir-fried and my dad likes them in soup. My mum and daughter really don’t like them, though.

I guess if food shortages become the norm, people will have to eat differently. But in the meantime it is hard to force some ‘weird’ vegetable down when the carrots at the farmers market look so much more delicious and easy to prepare.
 
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Helen Butt wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote: From my experience, Jerusalem Artichoke is only marginally drought tolerant in my locale.  I grow it in the irrigated garden.  But things like drought tolerance are very locale-specific.  We haven't really learned to like it.

I'm always interested in people's experience with unusual foods, and wish folks would post more about how they prepare them, how much a part of their diet they make up, and if their families enjoy them.



Same here - my Jerusalem artichokes will bounce back once it rains in the autumn,  but if it didn’t they would need irrigation to provide a crop in the winter.

I can tolerate Jerusalem artichokes if they are stir-fried and my dad likes them in soup. My mum and daughter really don’t like them, though.

I guess if food shortages become the norm, people will have to eat differently. But in the meantime it is hard to force some ‘weird’ vegetable down when the carrots at the farmers market look so much more delicious and easy to prepare.



The number of times I have harvested something my family doesn't commonly eat (garlic scapes for instance) and get nothing but complaints and mockery, only to receive even more complaints the next year because I didn't grow it again...

I've come to the conclusion that I will ignore them and keep growing these things. I can give the crop away, or trade it for lettuce. All the while, I'm learning about the plant, its needs, and how to best grow it for when the time comes that it really matters.
 
Helen Butt
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Nick Kitchener wrote:

The number of times I have harvested something my family doesn't commonly eat (garlic scapes for instance)....



I use the garlic scapes for my garlic crop in two year’s time. I think I must be about the only person in Britain who does this as I’ve never found a U.K. based website that discusses this issue at all (or takes into account the different climatic conditions here).
 
Helen Butt
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A very interesting discussion, which has taken me about three days to read.

Anyway, a small anecdote. In March, we had a few days of snow (we normally have a couple of hours of snow, so our infrastructure isn’t as geared up as other countries might be). After only a couple of days, supermarket shelves were devoid of fresh food such as milk and bread.

In other words, on this island we certainly won’t need a particularly big or noticeable tipping point before we’re in crisis with food (and presumably medicines). At the same time, our society is a lot more cohesive and team-spirited than might first appear, so I’m sure we would muddle through.

I am however very concerned for those people who are already having to leave their homes and venture into perhaps hostile territory in order to survive. My trees might not save them but I hope that more and more people will inspire more and more people to plant trees. And if they produce food, so much the better.
 
Author
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Location: Herefordshire, England, UK
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This year is a good one to test strategies for drought tolerance in England – nearly no rain for the last couple of months and temperatures above 30 Celsius are testing our systems to the limit. One thing I am learning is that perennial cover in itself is a drought proofing strategy.  While many annual field crops are struggling in our area, our rarely mown orchard and forest garden patches are having a super productive year. I put that down to reduced evaporation due to ground shading and dew being trapped by plants in the morning. I have also found in a friend’s land nearby that ground underneath a thick bracken mulch had stayed much more moist and permeable than soil under grass just a few metres away. The lesson here is that management strategies are as important as plant choices.
 
Tomas Remiarz
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Helen Butt wrote:

I use the garlic scapes for my garlic crop in two year’s time. I think I must be about the only person in Britain who does this as I’ve never found a U.K. based website that discusses this issue at all (or takes into account the different climatic conditions here).



Garlic tops make great pesto, used the same way as wild garlic. I've also preserved them in salt, which means they go into lactic fermentation similar to Sauerkraut.You can eve lace your cabbage with garlic tops for some kraut with a kick!
 
Helen Butt
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Tomas Remiarz wrote:This year is a good one to test strategies for drought tolerance in England – nearly no rain for the last couple of months and temperatures above 30 Celsius are testing our systems to the limit.



Very true!

Apart from resisting drought better than annual crops, perennials may have nutritional advantages:

http://ecofarmingdaily.com/soil-restoration-5-core-principles/

So again, perennials may better feed people in view of climate change.

PS Thanks for the tip about scapes in pesto. Have some left over from last year, so will try them out.
 
Posts: 65
Location: Utah
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Jan White wrote:I don't like the idea of protecting my food from the "zombie hordes."  Sepp Holzer talks about planting enough so the birds, squirrels, etc. can all take their share and there's still enough for you.  Well, I want to add zombie hordes to that list.  A huge part of the reason I want to grow food is to provide for my community - donating crops to food banks, seeds to community gardens, and, if and when it comes to it, helping in times of scarcity.  I'm not idealistic enough to think everyone's going to play nice and share when they start getting hungry, but I;m not going to horde food while other people starve either.  That's one of the reasons I like guerrilla gardening so much.  Plant perennial food wherever you can for other people to take advantage of.  I like Casie's reminder about the edible landscaping plants too.



When I started planning, I determined that the parkstrips of my yard would be an edible "neighborhood" garden. The neighbors are welcome to what grows there, and they know it. The rest of the yard will be landscaped, but with less obvious edibles. This year it was watermelons, next year it'll be something else that's obviously edible. If people want to forage in there, I'm fine with that. In the event of a collapse when people are hungry, they won't even know that most of what I'm growing is edible.
 
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Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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Casie Becker wrote:
True story, shortly after we moved into this house, I saw a fig laying in the grass in our front yard. After asking my nieces if they knew where it came from (I didn't remember buying it) one of them admitted to pulling it from a tree in one of our new neighbors front yards. She recognized the fruit from me taking her foraging in a public park and wanted a snack. We took her down to apologize for stealing their fruit and they were very concerned that she'd eaten them. You see, that was an 'ornamental' fig tree and the figs were poisonous. The girls obtained future permission to harvest that tree as long as they let the neighbors know when they were there.


In the Dominican Republic, my local contacts believe the native strangler-figs to be poisonous. My SAS Survival Guide disagrees, saying only to avoid those that are woody or hairy. They don't have any flavor worth mentioning, but I have mixed them into oatmeal for the dietary fiber and whatnot.
 
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