Here's your chance to be an editor, enjoy and please do feel free to critique, my publisher would probably thank you as I thank you now.
Since the 1970's there has been an increase in the number of people who, having rejected the widely popularized “buy all your food at the grocery store” method of feeding one's self and perhaps family, have taken to the old world idea of growing all or as much of your own food as possible. There has also been a resurgence of rejecting all commercialized methods of growing this food. No chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides is the cry of these modern day people starting to farm using old world methodology. Some of the front runners in this movement of healthy food by producing it your self are promoting their methodology with great success but even now the number of people who have been willing to take charge of their own nutritional needs is small when compared to the masses. Those who have chosen to go down this road of self sufficient life stye are knowledgeable about how to farm without using the methods first brought up in the early 20th century by Agricultural companies who promote using their chemicals both to grow food stuffs and to control the insect pests that like to be the thorn in the heel of every gardener in the modern world.
There is sage wisdom in parting ways with the current status quo of modern agriculture. There may even be more to this than just growing food with high nutritional values since if you look at the downward spiral of health in the developed countries that use the modern agriculture model to farm the food the people buy to eat, there seems to be a marked correlation between the advent of genetically modified food plants and the deterioration of peoples health, particularly the increase in numbers of cancer patients, certain mental maladies and growth / development rates. I am not going to prove these anomalies, that is for some health scientist to look into, I am just pointing out that there may be some connection since the time lines match up very well. Several studies have been done since the advent of modern agriculture methods which show a decrease in the quantity of nutrition and the quality of nutrition in the foods being sold at grocery stores. There has, at the same time been an increase in the use of antibiotics and growth hormone use in the production of meat animals mostly chickens, cattle and pigs. Eggs as an example can be observed as light yellow yolked and they taste of sulfur, more so than eggs bought from a farm that lets the chickens roam all over the land, picking out bugs and nibbling grasses, eggs from chickens raised this way are dark yellow to orange and the tested levels of cholesterol and omega three fatty acids are far removed from the pale yolked commercially farmed chickens eggs. Free range eggs also have been found to have more protein and trace minerals than the commercial production eggs, making free range eggs something the savvy buyer, who is interested in getting all the nutritional value per food item that they can seeks out and pays a premium price for. This is one of the reasons Farmer's Markets are on the rise and can be found in increasing numbers across the U.S.A. The other developed countries of the western world are also seeing the modern agricultural movement being rejected and in some instances not allowed to sell their genetically modified seeds or the chemicals that the modifications make attractive to use.
Enter the new age of the farmer, the world of Natural Methodology, where compost and manure teas take the place of chemical fertilizers. Where the soil is not ripped up and turned over without good cause so that the microbiology living in the soil remains healthy and thrives. Where trees live with berry bushes at their feet which live with squashes, beans, cucumbers and a host of other food producing plants growing at their feet and under their canopy. Harmoniously living together in a nature like setting while the soil bacterial and the mycorrhizal fungi make more nutrients easy for these plants to access and use to grow healthier, better tasting, more nutritious food for the grower and their customers to eat.
More and more people are now returning to the idea of producing their own food, and a lot of those people are determined to do their part to heal the earth of the problems humans have created or helped along. Many methods are being tried, and most of these are succeeding at reaching the goal of growing healthy food through growing healthy soil, some are all natural in what is used to nurture the soil and plants while others follow differing ideology but remain organic in their nature of what fertilizers and pesticides are used. All in all, people are heading back to using the methods of what many consider to be a simpler time, where food was inherently better both in nutritional value and taste. The apex of these methods is probably the planting of a food forest where tall trees give way to shorter trees which give way to bushes,all the understory of the tall trees being populated by a wide variety of food producing plants, each taking up the space that serves its growing habits and needs best. The result is maximum food production for the space used, efficient use of land means less land is devoted to food production. This isn't the Monoculture farm of the Modern Agricultural Movement, this is the poly-culture of the future that may allow the masses to be fed highly nutritionally dense foods that taste like they are supposed to taste and last longer in storage at the home than what comes from the grocery store. It is the beginning stage of a food revolution. Since you are reading this, I invite you to join us and indulge yourself in growing foods that really are good for you.
The food forest is both simple and complex, like most things humans desire to acomplish, they tend to strive to make it more complicated than it really is or should be. So what is a food forest? At the most basic it is a forest where most of the plants produce things we can use for food. At the most complicated it is a forest where most of the plants produce things we can use for food that we already like to eat. When you look at an already established food forest, it looks more like the transition point between the prarie and forest, where grasses give way to bushes which give way to understory trees which give way to the tall, canopy producing forest trees. If you were to catagorize the layers of a Southern USA food forest it would probably have a high canopy of Pecan trees with an understory of Apple, Peach, Pear, Persimmon, Plum and Pawpaw trees. Next down the order you would most likely see Service berry bushes followed by Blue berry and Huckleberry bushes, amongst those and out in front of these bushes you might find Bush Beans, yellow, zucinni, butternut, acorn squashes, pumpkins, watermellons, muskmellons, then there might be turnips, beets, carrots, some pepper varieties and at the rim strawberries. Winding up some of the taller trees you might see muscadine vines, grape vines, pole beans and cucumbers. All these would be planted according to each ones particular needs of sunlight and ground space. If you wanted corn then it would be planted so it had enough long daylight to grow to its maximum height, at its feet you would most likely find beans or squash since these three make up the traditional “three sisters” planting. Now, depending on where on planet earth you live, there are plants that can be used in this manner to create a healthy, vibrant, productive food forest.
To be continued (unless no one likes it, in which case I will throw this draft out and begin anew).
Ditto Tyler, but with the addition of windy and cold.
I like what you've posted so far, Bryant and am interested in seeing more FWIW. And didn't notice any spelling or grammatical errors (two things that really bug me in 'professional', paid for with hard earned money publications).
I'm not sure what it's about Bryant. Normally when I read your posts I feel a sense of passion in your words. This feels like you just sat down without any when you were writing this. It's not grabbing my attention. Who are you writing this for?
1st paragraph, 3rd line " by producing it your-self" not sure, is that one word, yourself ?
Second paragraph, Isn't current and status quo sort of saying the same thing twice ?
2nd again. 4th line, " studies have been done-comma- since.....methods-comma- which" then "show a decrease in quantity and quality of nutrition " .
2nd, 5th line after growth hormone, remove the "use"
2nd, 6th, " bugs and nibbling grasses- period- Capital Eggs" , ..... dark yellow to orange -yolked-...,
2nd 7th , " than the commercially produced eggs ," ..... " item that they can-comma-seeks" ,
2nd , last add a comma after "modifications make "
last paragraph, 1st line, " desire to accomplish, we" instead of they... second line, (if I may) I am not sure what the difference between basic and complex is? I am wondering if it might be better if you combine them to get : "At the most basic it is a forest where most of the plants produce things we can use for food that we already like to eat, At the most complicated it is a forest where most of the plants compliment and enhance each others environment in a polyculture...( or something like that?)
last, line 4 should the berries be one word...serviceberry and blueberry...? Then a period after "Huckleberry bushes a period and Capital Amongst...
line 5 bush beans, capitalized? yellow zuchinni, no comma and spelling? (or just leave out the yellow?)
That is coming up soon Tyler and Marla.
I plan on having each type of environment.
Thank you for pointing that out Rene,
what happened here was odd for me, this started without an introduction paragraph or two, hopefully it will make better sense once I write that part.
This is a project that my agent thinks I need to do, apparently I'm supposed to jump out of my "comfort zone".
I find it a bit strange to be writing this since I mostly write fantasy fiction these days. This seems pretty "willy-nilly" compared to how I usually work.
Thanks Miles, good editing.
I knew there would be errors and many times it is hard for the writer to see them.
I have always found having others read a work in progress will save me loads of time. I'll post up the re-write soon.
Thank you for that input, very good ideas that I will incorporate!
Yes this is supposed to be non-fiction, a genre I abandoned back in the 1980's.
While I don't really mind writing non-fiction, it is not what I enjoy writing these days.
You have brought up some points that will give this piece better direction and make it more pertinent.
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
posted 3 years ago
I'm only offering a critique because you put it out there. All suggestions are offered in kindness.
If you are writing for publication, your paragraphs and sentence structure are too long and too dense to read, even by people interested in the subject matter. Remember Strunk and White: omit needless words.
Use fewer words, by at least half. A lot of the sentences are passive. Make them active. Lighten up the paragraphs so I can look at any given paragraph and quickly know what you're talking about.
If this is about food forests, I'd open up with a paragraph about food forests, what they are, and how they can fit into local food production. Inspire people right off the bat with what food forests can do instead of focusing on the doom and gloom of modern agriculture and health. I think there's a place for that discussion early on, but I, personally, get turned off of any permie / organic writing that focuses on the doom and gloom instead of the subject matter.
I'd love to see a lot of writing on how to get food forests going from scratch and the steps along the way. A lot of the videos out there are either people who have just put in plants, "look, my fruit tree guild!" and mature food forests, without much covering the messiness and transitions in between.
I should have mentioned that this is a "first draft" manuscript, it will be pared to conciseness prior to going to print of course.
I've always used the "write it down then edit it down" method (my college professors were adamant about you have to have your thoughts down on paper first, then you get rid of the garbage (excesses)).
This allows free thought which has always worked well for me because I get everything written down that comes to mind as I am writing.
Once that is done, I go back and get to the business of editing it down.
Usually I go through a work four times before I send it to my agent, from that point, more editing occurs.
Never does something go to print without the publisher adding in more cuts, that is just the nature of being a published writer.
Once I had a friend that wanted to be a writer, but they took any comment as if it was a personal attack on them.
You just can't do that and be a writer.
I write because it is a need deep in my spirit, it is something I would be doing whether or not I ever got published.
I have never thought someone was attacking me when they talk about my writing. They just want me to get better at writing.
I'm not one of those people who think everyone has to like what I write, though it is nice if someone tells me they loved the story.
I'll throw some tidbits/thoughts that may or may not be useful. Nothing is fact checked.
Back in the day, in Japan, every square foot of land was used for gardening. If they had 10 Sq ft, they planted rice. As americans, we have the space. lets use it. Our hottubs, pools and backyard playgrounds have a bigger priority over the basic need to eat.
Cheap food is similar to cheap oil. Most Americans are aware of the side effects of cheap oil (pollution, smog), but few think of the consequences of cheap food ( loss of self dependence, pollutants in our rivers. CHEMICALS IN OUR BLOOD THAT WEREN'T THERE A FEW DECADES AGO, manure that once provided fertilizer now prevents plants from growing, etc etc etc)
I wonder if bonsai can be traced to the japan neccessity? Their creative side had to go miniature as food was the greater need?
As americans we get on a new bandwagon every so often.
Non go doesn't meen no pesticides.
A 60 mile food radius ( buying food from local growers vs imported) doesn't meen no chemicals or pesticides. Former governor of Texas Ann Richards once said " it costs more money to ship a pair of jeans from the port of Houston to lubbock, than to ship that same pair of jeans from Japan to houston". The same effiencies exist when shipping large truckloads of food as a container load of blue jeans, so buying based strictly on distance may not have the impact you think it has. There are bigger impacts in this authors opinion. Chemicals.
Millions are spent each year prepping the backyard garden. We till. We fertlize. We kill the bugs.
What if we planted the tomatoes once. We probably have to water it. Maybe we place grass clippings as a mulch. Maybe you picked some weeds. Maybe you dont.
What if you didn't go through that routine every year of tilling and killin.
What if you picked what you needed, provide for your friends and still, some of those tomatos fell to the ground. LEAVE THEM. you just planted next year's crop. Don't till it. Look at the impact that one tomato did. The peat bogs are not getting dug up for potting mix. The plastic in that little 6 pack pot never got made. It just happened! Of the plant is left there it will decompose and provide nutrients for next year.
I mentioned earlier how flawless fruit (what people want) is the worst for your body? The same applies to your garden. A weed free manicured garden, if chemicals are used to create it, will not produce the best food for your body.
I'm in agreement with Wayne. Chemicals are a primary concern, though I'd extend the discussion to soil health as well. There is a wealth of information on how the nutrient content of farmed vegetation has diminished over decades, such that our present crops contain on average about 60-70% of the nutrients found in food of the 1970s. The N-P-K focus of farming leaves many plots deficient in micronutrients; what the soil does not contain, it cannot provide. There's also the concern of glyphosate blocking nutrient uptake and transmission. These are great reasons to shift from factory farmed foods and into home-grown organics.
Did you know it takes 20 years by Monsanto's own numbers before soil treated with one application of glyphosate begins to grow crops with the nutrient density that applied before application? That's the best case from a lab-controlled scenario; in less-favorable temperate climates we're easily talking more than a dozen generations. That's the data for a single application at the recommended 10 ounces per acre. Consider what this means for factory farms with their typically extensive history of glyphosate application. I point this out not to demonize the present industry, but to show that nutrient dense food cannot be supplied by it. Our health is a product of our environment, and quality food is a fundamental input. It's not just a means of generating food, it's a path to better health. A food forest provides fitness, fun, and nutrient dense food; it's the antithesis of the dis-ease ridden lifestyle that is pervasive in Western societies.
I would suggest starting with an outline instead of an introduction. What do you want to say? How does it break out? Create an outline and the information will flow. It's important in non-fictional writing. You must capture your audience to be sure, but it's a different audience. Logic and structure are essential here. Your title appeals to the analytical reader. They're going to want things neatly bundled up. I'm not getting that from the initial read.
Here's a little different direction I'm trying out for this piece. Enjoy!
In the quietness that is found in all forests, at least where there are no people present, special places can be found. In the partial shade formed by might oaks and hickories, thickets of huckleberries might be found in spaces known as clearings. Near the edge of the tall trees, just before the beginning of a meadow, on the western edge, where shade begins to form as the sun travels past noon you might find these tasty, waist high berry bushes, go back a little further towards the trees and you might come across the taller serviceberry also known as saskatoon or you might find persimmon, apple, or pear trees even closer to the forest canopy trees. Which of these tasty food bearing trees you find in nature usually depends on the type and density of the canopy trees present. Hardwood and Conifer forests will harbor many species including those already mentioned. In the lands kept moist but not wet you can locate pawpaw trees usually near a stream or pond edge, there in the deep shade they can sprout and stretch for some sun as they grow, the tender first year leaves protected by the deep shade provided.
As you get closer to the meadow you would find shorter, more sun loving plants, some of which have provided food for all animals for eons or centuries. Melons, squashes, cucumber, runner beans all will grow where their vines can find supports to climb up for access to the sunlight. Maize would be found growing where the forest floor litter was deep and sun was plentiful for at least half the day. Such is the natural worlds way of providing for the creatures living upon the earth mothers creation. As part of her creation, she provides for them, all they have to do is hunt where the conditions are right for the food plants to flourish.
When man came along, we too were provided for, as one of the predator species we were given some extra gifts, a brain that could grow and learn to plant so we could have food where it might not have ever grown if left to the natural world devices. Over the many centuries of human occupation of earth man has tried many different methods of farming. Some were good others seemed good but the nutritional value of the plants suffered. It is time to go back to at least the ideas and methods we learned from our earth mother and cast off the dependence on manufactured nutrients that are only making us sick and robbing us of nutrition that we desperately need for healthy bodies and minds.
It is time for a new age, a different type of farmer, where the dependence on chemicals and artificial growing methods are cast aside. The world and the people on it need this to happen, preferably before it is to late. Already there are some who have started the process and they are spreading the word. We can have great food with great nutrition and it will taste great as well as having the ability to produce lots of it. At the same time we don't have to cut down any forest to achieve this, all we have to do is look at our earth mothers designs and duplicate her methods, the ones that have worked since before humans existed.
The flow of your revised version is good. It's an easy read and it paints a picture in my mind. I think the style works.
"No matter where you live" implies that this is book for anyone, anywhere, who seeks to create a food forest. Is this the case? I ask because your introduction is filled with zone specific species. I live in USDA Zone 2-3b. The tree and plant life you mention is fitting for a very different climate. Reading your introduction, I don't get the feeling you'll deliver on your title. Perhaps you need to rename the book. Alternately, you could address this concern. I think you'll find it applies to much of your potential audience; at minimum, it applies to the audience your title will attract.
I still feel it is worth creating an outline or index.
I'm finding myself agreeing with Chris Wells above. I don't recognise your portrayal of 'forest' or 'woodland'.
I'm in England - few of the species of plants you mention will be found in this country, let alone woodland. Even on the sunniest of days you can be in dense shade as soon as you step into the wood.
Take for example my wood. 2 acres with a large swathe of hawthorn. This shrub grows into a tall tree with a dense canopy. Lower branches die as sunlight fails to filter through. There is no understorey, the ground is barren.
The natural attrition here is very different.
I just can't suspend belief to that degree to ever feel comfortable with your description. In that, I already feel alienated.
Perhaps this part needs to be location specific. If people don't recognise the description you may lose them as you lost me.
Thank you for sharing.
Just put the cards in their christmas stocking and PRESTO! They get it now! It's like you're the harry potter of permaculture. richsoil.com/cards