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The Carbon Farming Solution - Chapter 4: Agroforestry and Perennial Crops

 
Burra Maluca
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The CARBON FARMING SOLUTION - A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security

by Eric Toesmeier

Part 1: The Big Idea

4: Agroforestry and Perennial Crops

For this discussion, the emphasis is to be on how we can use the information from the book to mitigate climate change and rising levels of CO2. We're looking for solutions, not debate about whether or not there is a problem. I'd like the discussion to be positive, helping people to make appropriate decisions, encouraging any step in the right direction.
 
R Ranson
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I have just finished reading this chapter and I have to say I am absolutely inspired by the homegarden (notice it's one word - for those of you not there yet, he makes a distinction between 'home garden' and 'homegarden') idea.

Homegarden is "an ancient and highly sophisticated form of agroforestry" (p42). It's basically a the traditional equivalent of a permaculture food forest. It seems to be very popular in the tropics, but there is a bit about temperate zone homegardens.

I have to say, the way Toesmeier describes homegarden on these three pages has me completely sold on the idea. None of the books I've read, even Toesmeier's other works, really interested me in this idea. Maybe this is just written more eloquently, or I'm at the right stage of my life to receive it, but gosh darn it, I'm Hooked! Pity I'm moving house in the next few years, but at least I can start propagating trees now, for wherever I end up.
 
Rus Williams
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I found this an inspirational chapter too, I liked his additional information on chinese temperate homegardening, and states that studies have found an income 6x times that of farmland of the same size.
For those interested he references this book

Li, agro-ecological farming systems in China

My big takeaway from this chapter was the section on the Baobab tree. The quote that really got me was "A tree as productive and important to people as this one is worthy of massive...pan-African research" He then describes the functions of this awesome looking tree.

In fact, I'm so impressed that I'll be changing my reply to anyone talking about GMO. From now on, whenever anyone is talking about how GMO research is necessary to 'feed the world', I'll point them in the direction of this tree (and its uses) as an example of what could be done.

A nice chapter, and a bunch of information and inspiration crammed into 10 pages.

 
David Livingston
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Homegarden= allotment

David
 
R Ranson
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My understanding was

homegarden (no capital) = allotment
Homegarden (with capital) he uses to describe a small food forest kind of set up.


home garden (two words) = allotment
Homegarden (one word) he uses to describe a small food forest kind of set up.

I'll see if I can find it again. It was a really nifty passage.
 
R Ranson
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From p42.

To many of us... the term homegarden just sounds like a "home garden." In the Western world this may evoke lawns, flowers, and perhaps annual vegetables, but as used here it signifies the tropical multistrata tradition-an ancient and highly sophisticated form of agroforestry. ...

...In the permaculture movement they are known as food forests, forest gardens, and edible forest gardens.



Then again, by year five, my allotment garden had room for very few annuals and was starting to look more like a forest with a few annuals fit in whereever the sun could reach.
 
David Livingston
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An allotment is not the same as a garden . Originally in the UK it referred to an Allotment of land that was supposed to enable a person to grow veg and fruit to feed their family . Ok some folks just grow flowers but most grow just veg but others are in effect what folks here would call a forest garden with a mixture of fruit veg ,bees , chickens , rabbits , pigeons I even know of a case in France where 5 allotment holders pooled resources and had a cow in common as well as fruit and veg ( in France they are called Jardain Familial )
David
 
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David Livingston wrote:An allotment is not the same as a garden . Originally in the UK it referred to an Allotment of land that was supposed to enable a person to grow veg and fruit to feed their family . Ok some folks just grow flowers but most grow just veg but others are in effect what folks here would call a forest garden with a mixture of fruit veg ,bees , chickens , rabbits , pigeons I even know of a case in France where 5 allotment holders pooled resources and had a cow in common as well as fruit and veg ( in France they are called Jardain Familial )
David


So true. I was simply continuing your earlier example.

We have allotments here too, but they are usually called community gardens - even though community gardens are a different thing altogether where anyone in the community can harvest, even if they didn't help to grow the food. Then again, most people treated our allotments as free food.

At least in the country, it is usually nature that 'reclaims my crop' just before harvest time and not vandals... but that's another story.

I imagine a homegarden as having a natural succession - but not the same way we think of it for a food forest. Food forests are more planned the way they evolve. I can see a homegarden started as a garden for growing veggies. Then a volunteer tree grew from the compost, so it got put in one corrner of the garden. Then someone gave me grape cuttings, so it went beside the tree. Pretty soon, half the garden is in perennial, and that first apple tree is just too darn big and risking somethingsomething like house damage or roots getting into the drains or what have you. So that tree gets cut down, some compost and soil piled up on the stump, and we have a friendly place from some herbs to grow. The wood from the apple tree goes towards making new trellises, rived into boards for a new raised bed, or whatever's needed.

This is just the romantic notion that the description of homegarden raises in my mind. Maybe it is designed from the start like a permaculture food forest.

 
Neil Layton
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Judging by the way Toensmeier describes it, the homegarden (one word) would be the tropical equivalent of the temperate food forest. The food forest would be a temperate homegarden.
 
R Ranson
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Neil Layton wrote:Judging by the way Toensmeier describes it, the homegarden (one word) would be the tropical equivalent of the temperate food forest. The food forest would be a temperate homegarden.


You're my food forest go to guy, Neil.

I'm curious. Whenever I see food forest, it looks like it's planned. We plant some little trees and give them some companions. Over time the little trees will grow biger and the (is this the right word?) understory changes as there is less light. I imagine food forest planning would take as much of this into account as possible before we start digging holes for trees.

What if we had a similar result with no intentional planning - like I described above. Would this still count as a food forest? Would it have a different name? This second approach would be more managed, almost daily, like a garden. I imagine a food forest is often given limited attention, more maintenance, rather than management.

I wonder if our author can chime in on this as well.
 
Neil Layton
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Well, Eric is one of my go-to guys when it comes to food forests.

I certainly see it as something planned and managed, bearing in mind that your plan will rarely successfully meet natural processes, but I'll allow Eric to elaborate.
 
Eric Toensmeier
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Hi everyone, great discussion.

Homegardens are typically less designed on paper than the modern cold climate food forest. I think this reflects the thousands of years of tradition. Nonetheless one sees the same issues at play - spacing, shade impacts, polycultures, diverse yields, livestock integration. They are not perfect but extremely interesting. I think we should be studying them intensively. I like describing the cold climate food forest as a temperate homegarden. It gives credit to the true developers of the notion, and points to us in cold climates as the very very new kids on the block. For terminology, I'm partial these days to calling food forests just another type of multistrata agroforestry (Chapter , towards the more intensive small-scale end of that category.

Also interesting about the distinction between the food forest vs. productive management of wild ecosystems (covered in Chapter 9). There is no precise line between these. Books like Tending the Wild (California) and The Biggest Estate on Earth (Australia) provide a look at traditional land management, which is on a continuum with multistrata agroforestry systems like homegardens. These days I am very interested in the 1000 different points that live between "farming" and "nature" that incorporate a perennial element and some human management. My own highly planned food forest is now directing much of its own evolution, as polyculture partners find each other and fruits like persimmon, currant, grape, hazel, and pawpaw germinate spontaneously.

 
Neil Layton
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Hi Eric.

It's good to see you back.

I'm very keen to see people who originated a good idea being given fair credit for it. The systematic looting of the Global South is a source of great shame.

I've been interested in the risks and implications of planting species in novel polycultures that may become invasive, having seen what some of these species can do. Did you plant species listed on the Global Invasive Species Database that originated outside your bioregion? If so, which ones? Are you seeing any indication of any of them jumping the fence?
 
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