Temperate-climate agroforestry offers the potential for long-term ecological mutualism with humans and trees, and while it is time-tested in having sustained millennia of our ancestors, there are many hurdles to shifting lifeways toward agroforestry in 2020. In this post I introduce the main challenges I have identified, and I outline a potential approach to overcome these challenges. In short, that approach is an agroforestry worker cooperative that ‘owns’ (has rights of control, and rights to returns) land and practices stewardship so to advance tree crops and sustain itself.
I hope this clarifies opportunities that we can turn into realities, to support multi-generational stewardship of trees for basic needs in a way that is mutually beneficial to all relations involved.
Notes from “Social Resilience and Urban Design: NYC and the COVID-19 Pandemic” webinar (hosted by architecture and urban design firm Cooper Robertson) with inspiring points made by Raymond Figueroa-Reyes and other speakers.
As we look to community gardening to provide food, as it has in the past (e.g. ~40% of food in U.S. during WWII; Cuban urban farming during its Special Period food shortages), we can look to Worker Protection Gardens and Community Gardens during the Industrial Revolution and Redlining period respectively.
Food hubs are on regional scale, but we need to bring them up in micro-scales, as distributed infrastructure for basic needs. Emergent food hubs can help aggregate and distribute food available from existing production systems as well as community gardens. (One example is in the Bronx worked on by this webinar’s speaker Raymond Figueroa-Reyes and others.)
Trickle up economy: focusing support to empower communities with micro-food systems, and the benefits will rise up through the system, growing diversity and resilience.
One idea for ‘where is the real limit’ is ‘first principles’, meaning the phenomenon studied by natural sciences.
For example: according to the patterns (we sometimes call laws) in physics, biochemistry, and agroecology, is it feasible to grow food in monocultures that rely on external inputs and petroleum products? Not for the long haul, not at all. Yet we do it, and further, we rely on economic systems (e.g. multinational corporations, global prioritization of financial profits) that make it difficult to do the opposite! (Opposite being, for example, ‘restoration agriculture’ or cultivating highly productive, highly diverse agro-ecosystems that mimic natural ecosystems in structure and function over time and space.)
Economics (as in, how we manage our ‘households’ at different scale) and political will is often where we stray from first principles (for some time). We can economically incentivize all we want, we can make all the political noise we want, but eventually we get constrained by higher and broader drivers. “The buck stops”…here and now, in accordance with natural trends and constraints.
We’ve pushed well out of bounds, so it will take some change to get back ‘within our limits’. A framework to work on is ‘relinquishment, resilience, and restoration’ a la deep adaptation (https://jembendell.com/2019/05/15/deep-adaptation-versions/). May peace be upon you.
How can one’s potential be best enabled, for one and all? Non-violence (aka non-aggression principle; harm principle; “first, do no harm”). Can we do that justice, for past-present-future generations?
We must work together, yet we can only do the work of oneself. Let us do one’s work without impinging on the ability for the same by one another. It is bad to act beyond one’s need and thus impede the ability of another to fulfill their need. Whether for water, shelter, warmth, . . .
The moral to the story is…your addiction to your needs and your
wants is what causes problems in your life. Make sure you got whatcha
need. Put at a safe distance all the things that you want. It’s wants
that get you into trouble.
Awesome footage of Finger Lakes-based Edible Acres plant nursery and homestead:
@1:44 Cool contrast of the land cover texture at Edible Acres forest garden alongside neighboring sparsely-treed lawn. From sunshine to complex, interdependent and diverse self-regenerating life and succession.
Overview of some low-tech approaches to propagate thousands of trees in modular, portable forms. Young, 1-2 year old trees can be grown this way then transported & transplanted bare-root into the ground, low-cost and resilient.
From a food resiliency standpoint: collecting wild nuts, cleaning and drying them properly, and storing them in-shell with decent airflow in a cool space like a basement – it’s probably one of the highest levels of resiliency for fat and protein that you could store, I think. These hickories should be good for 10 years, I’ve heard for up to 15 years. Chestnuts when they’re dry, more or less indefinitely. Acorns, more or less indefinitely. These Japanese walnuts from 4 years ago…one out of 50 is a dud, the rest taste absolutely beautiful.
from Edible Acres (@4:31 of video below)
@ 5:34 some processing footage
“It feels like a critical base layer to food security, with gardening, wild foraging and hunting as additional layers of benefit.”
Replying to a comment about wild nuts being a most efficient form of hunting & gathering
Food sovereignty, good when times are good and when times are not so good.
An imaginative exercise – what does an ideal food system look like to you? When I envision optimal food systems and resilient, rewarding primary sectors that are grounded and guarded by ecological mutualism, I see trees are a key & core part.
Towering timber trees among their families and cohorts of diverse company, gifting staple crops for current and future generations with numerous co-benefits. Agroforest cows? Shiitake and other medicines? Trees of all types, hazel in the northeast alongside other handy hardy bushes. Alley & edge crops. Wildlife habitat. Connection to place and harmony with neighbors human and nonhuman. Productive conservation & restoration agriculture. Forest gardens. Community food hubs, gathering and processing.
How can we integrate ecological mutualism into our lives, at various scales? Go nuts
Lyrics: (please think twice – sucka MCs, please think twice “you’d have to be crazy not to be crazy”, as for me?) – If I wasn’t talkin to trees, bugs I’d go crazy Motherfuckers acting lazy or stacking shady funds nd guns nd Piles of trash, no joke landfill leakin’ toxic yoke while blokes be blowin’ up motha’s mountains what the fucks, and the cops? Damn, I ain’t callin’em Politicians? I ain’t stallin’em Tryna get like complex numbers and off this line New train of thought, new training newly taught Know the names of those who aught to lead Brotha I’m talking seas, I’m talkin birds and bees I’m talkin’ lettin’ shit be and see how I can adjust Like what the fucks, we gotta control every dial? Every worthwhile mile gotta be styled to our industry? Fuck’um, styled to who’s liking? Shuck’um, styled like lightening – in mutual benefit to all with one bad day So you want beef? I’ll take it rare-ly Rarely eating it if I don’t know where it grow Rarely seeing it suffering or not in Hozho I’m in it to mimic ecosystems, tried and true Economics out of alignment with the physical? Dismiss’em Or at least know they’ll dismiss you Watch out – first principles comin’ through So when bygones be bygones be strugglin’ to buy some bread Kids and cats better know, better grow better ways ahead Plant some trees Eat some nuts, befriend some bees What the fucks, what’s our priorities? What’s the future you want to see? While some drain they brain to complain or get you in a particular lane I encourage you to bushwack, look back only for orientation Trailblaze through the maze of crazed disharmony Harming me, and you, and the whole zoo of this planet But I gotta hand it to the motha, like no otha, forests provide So when you turn on ya heat and engage what ya need to survive Remember that: grocers hustle, forests grow, fossil fuels tucked in tight on the low And there’s a time and place for every glow, but while the road gets rough I’m lookin’ for flames stayin’ lit through it all Resilient – lifeboats ladders and lamps I’m out, y’all can join me at nuttery camp gettin’ buttery with million year old champs growin above and with it: peace, peace, peace, One Love