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Volume One Introduction and Chapter One - The Forest and the Trees  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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Volume One: Vision and Theory

Introduction: an Invitation to Adventure
What is an edible forest garden?
Gardening like the forest vs gardening in the forest
Where can you grow a forest garden?
The Garden of Eden: it sounds great, but is it practical?

Part One: Vision

1: The Forest and the Trees
The primeval forest: a remembrance
Gardening the forest
Forest remnants
Feature article 1: natives and exotics
Definitions and questions
Box1.1: shifting the burden to the intervenor
Suburban ecology
Lessons learned
 
Ann Torrence
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Ok gang, here's a four thoughts on the opening chapters. What did you think?

The 7 fs (p1) adds an additional axis in the matrix, along with zone, the 7 layers concept, and my mental axis of pollinator/dynamic accumulator/nitrogen-fixer/etc., for plant selection. Our gardens have focused on food, fodder and fertilizer, right now I am feeling the lack of "emphasis on farmaceuticals" and fun, especially. These are areas to focus on as I add additional layers of plants.

I love the unabashed use of the word gardening. It's a broader definition, for sure, but there is no shame in using the word to describe the tending of a plot of plantings. We should take back the word, it doesn't have to mean tilling, row crops and bottles of chemicals. It will mean plant propagation, weeding, watering, and nurturing.

"Those of you in drier climates, such as the prairies and the desert Southwest, can grow forest gardens too, if you provide irrigation and wind protection. You should, however, look to your native habitats as models for sustainable agriculture." (p3)
My take on this, in an desert steppe climate, has been that looking beyond the eastern temperate forests to other models is critical, but not to constrain myself to our immediate region. 19th century grazing practices and at least 4 centuries of population disruption due to Spanish/Mexcian/native slave trade have rendered the local history uninterpretable. But there are other models—Khazakstan is an area that we are studying as an analog to our climate. Broad-minded exploration has yielded some interesting ideas for plant guilds.

The Burden of the Intervenor-what an important concept (p21). I sometimes despair that there is the fantasy amongst our tribe of plant it and forget it until you want its yields. I think we can strive for self-maintaining landscapes, but that we need to prepare for a long haul if we get there at all. I know on our land the rehab work is not for the faint-of-heart. And I have no control, only the power of positive influence, on what happens at the boundaries of my land that will leak over to slow healing. Not only do we bear the burden of our own interventions, but the unshouldered burden of those who came before. Assuming that they were doing the best they could with the information they had at the time (which I believe was the case for the pre-WWII generation of subsistence pioneers, less so on our little parcel for the last 30 years or so), the unintended consequences are staggeringly complicated to repair.
 
Brian Cady
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Jacke and Tonesmeier introduce the issue of defining invasive, which leads me to think about how, in the geological record, there are long periods of relative stability of species composition, puctuated by brief periods of rapid transition of species present, yet another example of punctuated equilibrium, (or punc. eq./punk eek).

For example, I understand that lake-bottom pollen record studies of Northeastern North American lakes have revealed that chestnut and hemlock only colonised the northeast about five thousand years ago, while most other forest denizens came here as soon as the glacial ice melted, ten thousand years ago, more or less. Humans to, as I understand, have also been in the northeast woods about five thousand years, leaving open the possibillity that chestnuts and/or hemlock were planted by the first post-glacial humans.
 
Penny Dumelie
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Hmmm... I was sure I had already replied here but I suppose the internet elves stole my post.

A few thoughts

The image given by the description in the book of pre-colonized North America fascinates me.

The thought of a massive plant system reaching from coast to coast is amazing, and it saddens me some to think it will most likely never exist again.

The view of Native Americans and their gardening methods is totally unlike anything I learned in school. Public school (still) gives the idea that they wandered aimlessly and gathered whatever they found. That there was no intent or conscious design to any of the flora. The view expressed in this chapter makes so much more sense to me.

While I can understand how settlers would not recognize this form of gardening when they arrived, I find it curious that they didn't eventually learn about it and adopt it. I also find it odd that Native Americans also do not seem to know about this. It does not seem like the information was kept and passed on.

 
Ann Torrence
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What books and other resources would folks recommend about up-to-date studies of pre-Columbus life in the new world? DH loves 1491, but I have not been able to get past page 10 after trying 3 times. Anything else out there?
 
Zenais Buck
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I loved the intro! My interest in coppice forestry increased 10 fold. I appreciate it when authors tell me what they are going to tell me... a bird's eye view of the framework helps me to assimilate details.

While much of the information in chapter 1 was not new to me, the author(s) certainly did a goo job of painting a vibrant image of the primeval forest. The forest diorama photos were pretty amazing.

Interesting fact from page 12: root grafts! That was a new one for me, and I look forward to reading more.

Full Disclosure: I am concurrently reading the Permaculture Design Manual, and so my thoughts are getting mixed up. It does not help that I am reading PDC first thing in the morning, and then EFG last thing before I fall asleep at night: The boundaries are getting a little hazy

(sorry to be so hasty with my post: today is 'outhouse day', where I get to shovel a year's accumulation into its next bin. If my lunch break gets any longer it won't happen!)
 
Ann Torrence
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Zenais Buck wrote:

Full Disclosure: I am concurrently reading the Permaculture Design Manual, and so my thoughts are getting mixed up. It does not help that I am reading PDC first thing in the morning, and then EFG last thing before I fall asleep at night: The boundaries are getting a little hazy

Good on you! As you read the PDM, please post your thoughts in the threads from the last read-along, starting here. You refreshing those threads might inspire someone else to dust off their copy. And there's a treasure trove of good convo from last year in each of those threads. See ya next week.
 
Christian MacInnis
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Location: Bowen Island, BC
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Re-read the intro to the book last night in bed with the girlfriend, who hasn't been exposed to the book before. It's a great partner activity, actually, and she's keen to learn more as we read through. Hopefully I'll get her signed up to the forums to participate.

I have to echo what's being said about coppicing and the excitement around it: it's like the fountain of youth for trees. I attended a seminar during my PDC about coppicing willows for living fencing and all of the potential for that. If only we humans lived 300 years to reap the extended benefits of that!

More soon as we (re-)read Chapter 1...

Christian
 
Doug Barth
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The intro is a part call to arms and part here's what has happened before.

Really the forest is, was, and will not (be) what you think it is. Settlers came to a pristine wonderland and they thought it was naturely that way. Not even close. Our conservation groups hold on to the belief of no intervention as the best plan for the environment. Humans are imbedded in nature and we need to be involved.

The question now is how we see ourselves in this feed back loop. Where we get our food, how we socially interact, and our policy towards forests. The separatism belief extends itself to all three. We don't know where we get our food. We don't know our neighbors. We treat the forest as a vacation spot or a mining zone. As many speakers and books say, start small and it shall grow. The book "The Good Life" by Helen Nearing says, "an advance is made if only a tiny one... and to those they influence through precept or example."

The future is what the end of this chapter and the rest of the book is about. We are all connected. As a keystone species, we can be better. Definitely, myself included in that group.
 
Michael Cox
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I loved this opening chapter, the authors approach of showing you the ancient forest really helps draw out the concepts well - particularly that we are not aiming for a try climax forest but rather to mimic a transitional stage which had the greatest diversity and yield.

I have to confess that I have read ahead a bit (I usually knock off a book a week and slowing down is painful!)- I'm not going to discuss material, but from a stylistic point of view I think I have enjoyed this chapter the most, the walk through the ancient forest was both interesting and thought provoking.
 
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