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

 
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Hi Neil,
Enough people for what? No one is saying that feeding the world will happen only in urban back yards, but it's a part of an overall solution. You can also focus on things that are high value that you can't get in a store, like for example, I grow paw paws, American persimmons, medlars, goumi berries, and 15 kinds of green vegetables that you can't get otherwise. They are complementary. You can also use a CSA for your bulk vegetables, and other stores as well. I have a hugulkultur in my back yard and I put organic matter into the soil, so it is holding carbon. We can also teach others to grow over time. I think in the future we'll have a lot more parks that have fruit trees in them where local neighbors can gather the fruit to eat.
John S
PDX OR
 
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John Saltveit wrote:Hi Neil,
Enough people for what? No one is saying that feeding the world will happen only in urban back yards, but it's a part of an overall solution. You can also focus on things that are high value that you can't get in a store, like for example, I grow paw paws, American persimmons, medlars, goumi berries, and 15 kinds of green vegetables that you can't get otherwise. They are complementary. You can also use a CSA for your bulk vegetables, and other stores as well. I have a hugulkultur in my back yard and I put organic matter into the soil, so it is holding carbon. We can also teach others to grow over time. I think in the future we'll have a lot more parks that have fruit trees in them where local neighbors can gather the fruit to eat.
John S
PDX OR



This is a fair point, in a world where food distribution networks have not failed, or even where nations and regions have not instituted export restrictions on food. Now, this is a worst-case scenario (although we've already seen limited versions of the latter), but I think that it's something to be aware of when we talk about long-term sustainability. Your system is not sustainable when there are external factors that could wreck it under foreseeable circumstances.
 
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Neil Layton wrote:

John Saltveit wrote:Hi Neil,
Enough people for what? No one is saying that feeding the world will happen only in urban back yards, but it's a part of an overall solution. You can also focus on things that are high value that you can't get in a store, like for example, I grow paw paws, American persimmons, medlars, goumi berries, and 15 kinds of green vegetables that you can't get otherwise. They are complementary. You can also use a CSA for your bulk vegetables, and other stores as well. I have a hugulkultur in my back yard and I put organic matter into the soil, so it is holding carbon. We can also teach others to grow over time. I think in the future we'll have a lot more parks that have fruit trees in them where local neighbors can gather the fruit to eat.
John S
PDX OR



This is a fair point, in a world where food distribution networks have not failed, or even where nations and regions have not instituted export restrictions on food. Now, this is a worst-case scenario (although we've already seen limited versions of the latter), but I think that it's something to be aware of when we talk about long-term sustainability. Your system is not sustainable when there are external factors that could wreck it under foreseeable circumstances.

The key to making sure food distribution networks don't fail is expanding the principles of permaculture worldwide. It becomes an economy of abundance, rather than shortage.

It won't stop a huge "dinosaur killer" asteroid event or a nuclear winter or things of that nature. But it does stop the current unsustainable agricultural practices from collapsing civilization. That is a very real threat and permaculture adopted widely enough is the solution.
Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues
 
Neil Layton
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Scott Strough wrote: The key to making sure food distribution networks don't fail is expanding the principles of permaculture worldwide. It becomes an economy of abundance, rather than shortage.

It won't stop a huge "dinosaur killer" asteroid event or a nuclear winter or things of that nature. But it does stop the current unsustainable agricultural practices from collapsing civilization. That is a very real threat and permaculture adopted widely enough is the solution.
Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues



I agree, and I've cited the same study elsewhere.

There are two issues. The first is whether or not instituting more sustainable methods of agriculture worldwide is something we can expect. The second is the extent to which some parts of the world will become increasingly unlivable under the disrupted climate.

Also remember your food forest provides a buffer against partial crop failure. It won't protect against a California-style drought.
 
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Neil Layton wrote:

Scott Strough wrote: The key to making sure food distribution networks don't fail is expanding the principles of permaculture worldwide. It becomes an economy of abundance, rather than shortage.

It won't stop a huge "dinosaur killer" asteroid event or a nuclear winter or things of that nature. But it does stop the current unsustainable agricultural practices from collapsing civilization. That is a very real threat and permaculture adopted widely enough is the solution.
Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues



I agree, and I've cited the same study elsewhere.

There are two issues. The first is whether or not instituting more sustainable methods of agriculture worldwide is something we can expect. The second is the extent to which some parts of the world will become increasingly unlivable under the disrupted climate.

Also remember your food forest provides a buffer against partial crop failure. It won't protect against a California-style drought.



Can we expect it? Who knows. Can we work towards it? Yes. All we can do is try; whether it turns out to be enough only time will tell.

It's good to keep an eye on possible futures, but probably futile to think we know exactly what will happen, and counterproductive to lock into one specific scenario. Some abrupt cataclysms (like mass population movements out of areas where the basic carbohydrate crop fails) seem likely, but their timing and extent are hard to predict. Moreover, they're not the whole picture. I agree with John Michael Greer's analysis of collapses in history - they tend to include irregularly alternating periods of slow decline, crisis, rapid decline, and even temporary recoveries. Nor are they likely to manifest themselves the same way at the same time everywhere. William Gibson famously said that "the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." Collapse seems likely to follow the same pattern.

 
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Was anyone wondering if I would show up.
I didn't have too much to add. If excess rain is the new normal, concentrating on cat tails is worth pursuing. They should slow down excess water anyhow. I'll try them for pig food soon (the roots and stocks). Apples grow in lots of climates.

What I did want to add to was the marauding Zombie hoard thang. In survivalist speak, the Golden Hoard theory. I remember the first time that someone pointed out to me that the golden hoard theory was wrong. I immediately shock my head at the guy for being so stupid. Over the next year I eventually went, "Blast! I got something else wrong".
As things get desperate, people move towards the cities. Not away from them.

They move towards the hubs. The place they hope for a better life. Towards the hub of trade. distribution points. The most likely place they can find work. The most likely place they can find help, a soup kitchen or aid station. To beg or sell themselves into prostitution. To dumpster dive or sort garbage for sellable's. If they cant find or afford gas.

Sound unlikely? Think Mexico City, New Deli or Bangkok. Think of small rural communities that are boarded up and dyeing.

Marauders stealing your crops...You are much more likely to be having to pay protection money to some organised crime group as the power vacume leaves strong arm groups jockeying for control.

Just some food for thought. Sorry I couldn't help more on the food forest.
 
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Neil Layton wrote:Also remember your food forest provides a buffer against partial crop failure. It won't protect against a California-style drought.



I wonder if one had enough land for a largish food forest, if one could prepare for a California-style drought by planting the most drought tolerant food plants in one area. The challenge in a typically moist environment would be how to plant them in a way in which they wouldn't be too wet most of the time, but not too dry during a drought....seems a very challenging design problem! Some of our wild food plants here in my part of Texas are used to varying amounts of moisture, because we have spectacular floods as well as periodic severe droughts. Mesquite and Sotol are two plants which seem to survive these wild swings. The domestic spineless Prickly Pear seems to also endure varying amounts of moisture. There are some edible tuberous prairie plants which might work as well, but so far I haven't grown them. Some of these kinds of tubers will go dormant during droughts, not sending up leaves, but the tubers are still storing food underground.

Ross, I agree with you about people moving to the cities during tough times. I think that, these days, very few people really expect to find food in the country; food comes from the store, especially in my locale where the only "crops" are oats and sorghum and a few cows, goats and sheep which will be sold long before times get tough enough for anyone to think about wandering the countryside in search of a meal. It's possible there will be professional poachers eventually, because there are plenty of deer. I'll know times are really tough when we no longer have huge herds of deer running around eating everything. Frankly, I don't expect to live that long.


 
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They move towards the hubs. The place they hope for a better life. Towards the hub of trade. distribution points. The most likely place they can find work. The most likely place they can find help, a soup kitchen or aid station. To beg or sell themselves into prostitution. To dumpster dive or sort garbage for sellable's. If they cant find or afford gas.


Precisely. Opportunity exists around the big cities - the population centers. Opportunity abounds. Where you can "Get Rich Quick!"

In the rural areas, you need some seeds, a shovel, and 4-6 months to wait for a crop.
 
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Ross Raven wrote:

As things get desperate, people move towards the cities. Not away from them.

They move towards the hubs. The place they hope for a better life. Towards the hub of trade. distribution points. The most likely place they can find work. The most likely place they can find help, a soup kitchen or aid station. To beg or sell themselves into prostitution. To dumpster dive or sort garbage for sellable's. If they cant find or afford gas.

Sound unlikely? Think Mexico City, New Deli or Bangkok. Think of small rural communities that are boarded up and dyeing.



I don't agree.

Mexico City, New Delhi, Bangkok - these are all examples of what happens in "normal" times, the present times, when there is still trade, and "distribution points", "soup kitchens" etc. are still working. When "garbage" can still be sold for money, and money can still be used to buy things.

You need to think further than that - of a scenario where EVERYTHING breaks down, food (water, fuel, pretty much everything) has run out because of natural or man-made disasters, and there's no more trade, and money has become useless. That's when the brown stuff really hits the proverbial fan.

The city will suddenly lose its appeal, it will become a death trap.

A very mild and benign approximation of such a scenario played out towards the end of the 2nd World War in Central Europe. People in some big cities were being bombed, under siege, starving, and suffering from cold and illness. All the while, life in the countryside was still bearable (as long as you were not too close to the frontline) - the peasant still had his land and could live off it. Of course, you could still be visited by "marauding hordes" - these could be, say, German troops or Soviet ones, depending on which side you were. (My grandmother had to hand over a pantryful of bacons and sausages to the Soviet soldiers "visiting" her village, or risk being shot.)

 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't see climate change as being analogous to war. Except in the event of war, cities will not be bombed. In my region there are no peasants living on the land. Just a bunch of people who buy their food at the store. It's possible some folks out here will try to learn how to grow their own food, but growing food is difficult here even without much climate change. It's hard for me to imagine what people would think they'd find out here to eat if they leave the city because there isn't any more food. They probably wouldn't get very far, not having any food or water. I see even dramatic climate change being gradual compared to war, giving people time to make either good, or bad, decisions. Currently people are making quite bad decisions about land use in this region and the land is quite degraded from its historical carrying capacity.

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I don't see climate change as being analogous to war. Except in the event of war, cities will not be bombed. In my region there are no peasants living on the land. Just a bunch of people who buy their food at the store.



Climate change is not analogous to war but the stress and destruction it will cause will be similar to that caused by war. Cities become death traps. All of a sudden, high-rise apartments become uninhabitable and department stores empty. How will the urban crowds eat?



 
Tyler Ludens
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I disagree that climate change will be all of a sudden. I think it will be relatively gradual. People in this region will probably need to learn to eat some weird stuff, the things that grow here or that could be grown here, many of which aren't part of the "normal" diet.

Let's play "Spot the Food!"

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Let's play "Spot the Food!"



As much as I enjoy a rousing game of "Spot the Food!", the simple fact of the matter is that nothing in that picture (as far as I can tell from the distance) will support life for any amount of time. Many things are edible and very good for you that simply don't have enough calories to support life for any length of time. I lived in Phoenix AZ for quite a few years, and I can tell you, the most diehard food forager wouldn't last long trying to survive on wild foods there.

I am enjoying this discussion very much though.
 
Tyler Ludens
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One of the foods in that image was a staple food for the native folks in this region. It would be like looking at a field of potatoes and saying "there's nothing there that will support life for any length of time."



 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I disagree that climate change will be all of a sudden. I think it will be relatively gradual. People in this region will probably need to learn to eat some weird stuff, the things that grow here or that could be grown here, many of which aren't part of the "normal" diet.

Let's play "Spot the Food!"



I'm pretty sure the big spiky one is yucca, which any fule know, even over here, provides edible fruit and other parts.

Where I agree with Todd is the point that it won't feed large numbers of people for any length of time.

Where I also disagree with Tyler is that climate change is guaranteed to be relatively gradual. A tipping point could happen at any time (there are scientists studying methane in the Arctic who are getting very, very scared).
 
Tyler Ludens
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It's not yucca. And I didn't say the food in that photo would feed large numbers of people for any length of time. I just wanted to know if anyone could spot the food in that photo. They can't, which supports my idea that people would have no clue where to find food if they fled the city.

I don't claim any "guarantee" of gradual climate change. It's what I personally expect, not a guarantee.

Personally, I'd like to talk more about food forests and climate change. I'll be planting more of the above illustrated food in my food forest. I already have quite a bit, but plan to plant more. What kinds of durable staple foods do other folks plan to plant in their food forests which they hope will survive climate change?

 
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This is a very interesting thread. I've been following it with a great deal of enthusiasm.

I tell you, I would have a hard time surviving in Tyler's Spot the Food setting. 'Though I suspect, there aren't many who could spot the staple crop here either:


Image borrowed from here

This little plot of land provided a few thousand people with their main source of carbohydrates. Some historians say their only source of carbs. The crop is still there, and it's not the trees (or the dead people... they've been dead too long to be useful as zombies or staple crop).


I haven't made a food forest yet, as I figure I could provide for me and mine with my pocket knife. Between wild food, decorative gardens and food crops we grow, there is easily enough food for 50 people or so (so long as each is willing to work for it - no free loaders at my place come zombie apocalypse).

Reading this thread, I'm beginning to think I want more. A food forest seems a very good idea.


So here are the questions as I see them:


What do we do to plan our food forest so that it can survive and thrive if/when we have climate change. Does it get hotter or colder? Is it a gradual change (like we've had the last 120 years) or a sudden one (like the onset of the little ice age circa 1300 which took only three years to transform the climate of Europe)? None of that matters because we don't know! That's the point of being prepaired for the future, we take our best guess and work with it. The more outcomes we prepare for, the better luck we have that something might work. So I return to the really important question: How do we make our food forest most resilient to possible climate change?

I like the idea of planting for growing zones that aren't ideal for our location at the moment. Where I am, we are mostly 8b, so for my future food forest, I will probably plant 7 though 9 and see what I get.

Taking advantages of micro climates has been mentioned, and this makes a lot of sense. Food forests are microcosms of microclimates.

Variety of plants seems to be key in a food forest. This seems to be the best survival for any food production in any changing environment. Food forests by their very nature have a head start.


How many people will it feed?
This is very much a personal issue. To be able to feed a hundred or five people, might be taxing on a food forest, but thousands of people... over long periods of time? This seems too much of a challenge for a single food forest. It would probably want something more than just food forests, maybe augmented by other crops... but we can talk about what those crops are in another thread, this thread is forest focused.

Basically, how many people to feed is going to depend on each individual situation. My thoughts for my own situation is that it needs to feed my family, my friends, my new 'friends' who befriend me as soon as they find out I'm not starving, and as much again for trade. This is of course assuming that climate change is going to be something that sticks around.

There is no way I could feed the city with my hand full of acres.

That brings us back to zombies - how I love a good zombie based thread - How are we going to make certain that we actually get to eat from our food forest?

If the climate change is sudden, then camouflage might be the solution. A hedge row of spiky thorny things often keeps aimless hords of zombies at bay, or at least deflects them to someone a little more open about their food. Pure ignorance of the zombie is another line of defence. Planting cauliflower, which looks like brains and therefore zombie food, near fava beans that look like an ornamental plant and therefore poison to zombies, might be a good camouflage strategy. The cauliflower can act as a sacrificial plant protecting the main staple crop which is the fava bean.

If it's a slow change to the environment, then things might be a bit different. I call it the boiling frog approach - which is absolutely disgusting I know. You stick a frog in boiling water, it jumps out. You stick it in warm water, heat it slowly, it stays in the water until it's too late (for the frog, not late for dinner). In this kind of climate change, I don't know how things are going to go. I have a suspicion it's going to go much the same way it's been going so far... with our current slow change, more people learning about new sources of food. And I think a lot of people are just going to stay in the water and wait for dinner to heat up.


 
Tyler Ludens
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If it's a location from your region, Ranson, I'd be looking for Quamash. But I could be wrong!

I'm hoping some of the things I plant might feed some people (probably only a handful for a short period) some time in the future. In the event of abrupt climate change, I'll die in a year or two, so I won't be worrying about it much (being too busy being crippled, and then dying).

 
raven ranson
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Feeding just a handful of people, one might not even need a food forest. But it wouldn't hurt.

My approach to whatever changes (or stasis) we are about to have is to gather a great diversity of food plants, and people around me. The theory is that if a diversity of crops helps ensure harvest in a bad year, then I'll start cultivating the same with people.

Now that we're have identified our desired outcomes, how do we go about creating a food forest that can provide for our needs and withstand environmental changes. That's the question that interests me.
 
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People have been stealing from my garden for as long as I have been growing. In my late 20s I finally resolved the issue for myself by posting the following sign in my garden. And then fully embracing the message that it conveys. Basically, my garden exists to feed the human and non-human animals that eat plants. Help yourself to what you need to sustain yourself today, but don't be a thug and take more than you can eat. I never complain if an animal or bug eats my garden. Where else are my deer kin ever going to get such glorious tasting muskmelons?

Within months of posting this sign, I had the opportunity to establish a food pantry, and decades later, I am still operating the food pantry and feeding the community. In hard times, I will continue to feed the community to the best of my ability. They will continue to feed me. I don't like milking cows, sheep, or goats, but people in my community do. They don't like making cheese, but I love it. I collaborate with neighbors who make pickles, who raise pigs, who keep geese, who grow greens, who grow mushrooms, who bake bread, etc. So that I don't have to grow every food that I eat. The things that I grow really well feed the chickens, goats, and pigs that are raised by my neighbors. My herbs medicate the animals. I eat the animals, and my neighbor's value added products.

I'm fortunate to have grown up in an area where community has never been forgotten, and where the gifting economy is still strong and vibrant. Many don't understand, but enough do that it's a joy to be a farmer and to collaborate with the neighbors.
my-garde-eat-freely.jpg
[Thumbnail for my-garde-eat-freely.jpg]
Eat Freely From My Garden.
 
raven ranson
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There's another good question: can a food forest provide enough food to feed us?

I'm not sure i would want it to. Having experienced a time of challenge and scarcity I'm making every effort I can not to experience it again. A food forest would be one useful tool I can use to increase my food supply. For my own situation I would also want some field crops (hopefully grown according to Fukuoka's philosophy) and a kitchen garden of sorts. So I think a food forest would be maybe a third of my caloric intake in a emergency situation. Maybe more if I could get a good crop of cider apples for... well you know... fermented into cider.


Not strictly a food forest, but I think hedgerows are going to be a big part of my future plan. I spent a good part of my life living with people who remember rationing and what it was like during The Depression and WWII, I have a very high respect for hedgerows. Not only do they keep livestock and larger wild life inside or outside an area, they provide a boundary most humans or zombies find troublesome to cross, can be a major source of calories (as they were in war time England), provide safe space for pollinators and beneficial wild life, but also they just look so darn awesome. It's got just about everything I love in the food forest, only it's also a fence. I haven't had a search around for a hedgerow thread yet, but I think it would be something really fun to explore with you guys.



But can a food forest, alone, provide enough food for us to eat, especially when under the pressures of adapting to an environmental change? Would we want it too? So many variables to consider. I suspect the answer to this question is going to be as varied as the people who consider it.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I disagree that climate change will be all of a sudden. I think it will be relatively gradual. People in this region will probably need to learn to eat some weird stuff, the things that grow here or that could be grown here, many of which aren't part of the "normal" diet.

Let's play "Spot the Food!"



This is a fantastic reminder as to why I do not want to be in the desert in a survival situation. I have no idea what anything is! Seeing this is a real big eye-opener, because I like to think I know my food plants. But I don't know that ecosystem at all. Most people don't know any natural ecosystems, and I hadn't realized how much I take my knowledge of ecosystems for granted.

R Ranson wrote:This is a very interesting thread. I've been following it with a great deal of enthusiasm.

I tell you, I would have a hard time surviving in Tyler's Spot the Food setting. 'Though I suspect, there aren't many who could spot the staple crop here either:


Image borrowed from here

This little plot of land provided a few thousand people with their main source of carbohydrates. Some historians say their only source of carbs. The crop is still there, and it's not the trees (or the dead people... they've been dead too long to be useful as zombies or staple crop).



Is there camas in there? It looks like the right sort of environment. I'm going to plant a bunch of bulbs this summer and try them out.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Ooooh, ooooh! I think I finally figured out Tyler's pop quiz! It's Dasylirion texanum, yes? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasylirion_texanum.



I kind of cheated, because I remember in http://www.permies.com/t/17005/plants/Perennial-sources-starch-protein, you talked about the natives in your area using a plant as a food staple, but that it takes a lot of effort to process (as so many perennial food sources of carbs seem to). I had to dig through a lot of my old posts to figure out where you'd posted that, and what the plant was!
 
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Ross Raven wrote:

The next is randomly for any of the people that got stuck in the idea that they are going to shoot it out with Marauders. Its time for a reality check on that. Im pulling a, scare the shit out of you, moment for your own good. I am going to show you what that really looks like. It might be too much for permies (don't worry. no gore). This vid edited the original with the police showing up but backing down and then directing traffic instead. Pay attention to the start time and the end time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbz1RcFvz64



Here's more background on the video: http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/04/video-of-massacre-in-creel.html. I have slow internet and couldn't tell what was going on, so I looked it up. In summary, a drug cartel shows up at a town in Mexico. Kills random people on the street, shoots cocaine, and murders a family in their home. All the while, the police just watch on camera and do nothing, because they're "working on trying to figure out which group was responsible," and don't have enough police force to keep the cartel in check.
 
Levente Andras
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I disagree that climate change will be all of a sudden. I think it will be relatively gradual. People in this region will probably need to learn to eat some weird stuff, the things that grow here or that could be grown here, many of which aren't part of the "normal" diet.

Let's play "Spot the Food!"



Climate change will not happen (has not happened) all of a sudden. It has been gradual until now. It will speed up in the years to come.

What may happen all of a sudden (or pretty swiftly anyway) - when climate change reaches a certain tipping point - is social unrest, and socio-economic collapse. All nice things.
 
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I think we attract the kind of thing we expect.
I think those who look at the future as dire and something to be defended will probably get to act out that scenario.
I think that those who expect a peaceful, sharing future with most folks helping others will have that to look forward to.

I like Joseph's approach...I think we need more of this.....

joseph lofthouse wrote:I'm fortunate to have grown up in an area where community has never been forgotten, and where the gifting economy is still strong and vibrant. Many don't understand, but enough do that it's a joy to be a farmer and to collaborate with the neighbors.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, Nicole - you are correct! I've posted often about the plant over the years. I never intend to live on it as my sole source of nourishment and I never made any such claim in this thread or elsewhere. In fact, I probably won't be eating it again because it is difficult to prepare and not very tasty. But I will continue to plant it for the future. Same with Buffalo Gourd, Osage Orange, and other useful and edible regional and adapted plants that I probably won't eat very often. They may be of value to someone some day, as they were in the past.





 
Tyler Ludens
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R Ranson wrote:
But can a food forest, alone, provide enough food for us to eat, especially when under the pressures of adapting to an environmental change? Would we want it too? So many variables to consider. I suspect the answer to this question is going to be as varied as the people who consider it.



I see a food forest as an extension of a larger food-growing system, one which contains annual crops, perennials, domestic animals, and wild food sources. At least that is what I'm working toward on my own land. I'm not very close to being able to provide even most of the food needed by my household, and I may never achieve it. If times get much tougher than they are now (and we're currently living at the poverty line as it is), I'm not sure what I will do. Moving to the city is not really an option. I'll definitely be trying to grow more staples. http://www.permies.com/t/51692/permaculture/Staple-crops
 
Todd Parr
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Tyler Ludens wrote:One of the foods in that image was a staple food for the native folks in this region. It would be like looking at a field of potatoes and saying "there's nothing there that will support life for any length of time."





I disagree. I don't think potatoes can be compared to a grassy plant that can, with a large amount of time and work, be pounded into flour, which then has to be made into something else. I'm curious the amount of calories you could get from the area in your picture compared to the amount you would expend digging and preparing the plants. I think you may even have a deficit, but that is just an assumption on my part. Either way, I would not relish a time when I had to survive in a region like that. I enjoyed living in AZ (at least other than a couple of months in the summer), but I am very grateful for the climate here when it comes to growing food, and I understand the challenges you have with growing food in that type environment.
 
Todd Parr
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More on topic, I think food forests may be the best way for people to survive in a post-SHTF scenario. The simple truth for me is that I have to have a way of producing food that doesn't need outside inputs, doesn't need tools other than hand tools, and must produce more food than I and my loved ones can eat. For me, a food forest seems the best bet, and the one I am continually working to improve.
 
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Joseph as always, I love your post.

It reminds me of a public orchard and garden I found the other day. The garden/orchard was in two parts. The one part was a combination of edible trees and herbs - planted a bit guild style, so like an open food forest with paths. I found this massive bay tree and snatched myself some leaves for the year. The other part was a fenced orchard style place. Fenced to keep the deer and rabbits out, not the people. Their trees were still young, but they were interplanted with lots of other companions. I was very impressed.

There were signs about the project and how this is part of a bigger plan to create urban sources of food. Will people abuse this sort of set up? Some will, some won't. Some will be like me and only take what they need (a couple dozen bay leaves and a handful of fennel seeds), others will take more than they need, and most, I think won't recognize what it is for. While I was harvesting my fennel seed, I nibbled on one to make sure it wasn't caraway. Passer buy thought it was disgusting because it wasn't from a grocery store, and therefore not clean. I asked them what they mean by 'clean', and they reply, 'you know, clean, as in washed'. I said it's raining, they said exactly... we parted company both rather confused.

If it had been a U-pick blueberry farm, these are the same kind of people who would be stuffing more berries in their mouth than their bucket. Raining or not.

Bringing this back to the food forest, it highlights how valuable a forest can be for camouflaging food.

These gardens also show how respectful the public can be of a public food source. There are a few of these public gardens in town, and they all seem a bit overgrown to me. A few people I know, harvest from them, but only a tiny amount. I wonder if there is something inside most people who interact with plants which unconsciously tells them to leave enough for the plant, so we can have food from here again next year.


In other news, if anyone knows the organizers of this food forest public orchard thingy (it's the one with the cob bench) I have some plants and seeds I would like to donate to them in thanks for the bay leaves.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Sotol was the regional analogue to potatoes, that is, it was the staple carbohydrate. The people didn't tend to pound it into flour, they mostly just baked and ate it, kind of like a potato. Except it is more fibrous. I guess they made patties of the baked plant to store, at least this website says so: http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/nature/plant.html

Here's a field of it across the road from a little town near here. The plants are growing pretty solidly, so there's tons of food there. It wouldn't support all the people in the neighborhood, but it could feed some folks for awhile:

sotol.jpg
[Thumbnail for sotol.jpg]
 
Tyler Ludens
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Are any of you all growing any of the native staple carbohydrates in your food forests, what are they, how are they doing, and do you like eating them? (Or maybe I should be asking you to put this in the Staple Crops thread, I don't know. I'm almost afraid to post in this thread anymore, because people keep insisting on debating me about Sotol).

 
Scott Strough
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R Ranson wrote:



How many people will it feed?
This is very much a personal issue. To be able to feed a hundred or five people, might be taxing on a food forest, but thousands of people... over long periods of time? This seems too much of a challenge for a single food forest. It would probably want something more than just food forests, maybe augmented by other crops... but we can talk about what those crops are in another thread, this thread is forest focused.

Basically, how many people to feed is going to depend on each individual situation. My thoughts for my own situation is that it needs to feed my family, my friends, my new 'friends' who befriend me as soon as they find out I'm not starving, and as much again for trade. This is of course assuming that climate change is going to be something that sticks around.

There is no way I could feed the city with my hand full of acres.


Lets put it this way, On a per acre basis a chestnut/hazelnut savanna produces more starch and oil than a corn/soy rotation on a per acre basis. I picked that because chestnuts produce more starch than a cornfield and hazelnuts more oil than soybeans. Some other areas like tropical food forests might even produce more food per acre. Then you have the ability to graze between trees and have understory guild plants too. Paw Paws, berries vines like grapes sheep goats cows chickens etc rotated through at precise times and durations will add to the productivity, fertility and health of the basic chestnut hazelnut model, not detract from it. Same goes for the tropical food forests. So managed properly, a food forest can feed the world, you just need a big enough forest. And that will both be resilient against climate change and mitigate the change itself. There is no down side except some areas are too dry for large forests. Those areas can become food grasslands, again producing more food per acre than the standard corn soy rotation, if managed properly, and both resilient against climate change and mitigating climate change. So once again, no down side.

So again as I said before, Permaculture creates an economy of abundance, not shortages.
 
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