How Forest Gardens Create a Sense of Wellness and Community

Permaculture and food forests seek to mimic the intelligence, sustainability, and harmony of natural systems.

Nov 29, 2018

It is no secret that trees are nature’s glorious treasure. They adorn our planet with colorful landscapes, nourish us with sweet fruits, and fill us with deep breaths of clean air. They can also improve our mood, health, and sense of awe.

But beyond that, planting and nurturing forests can also be a tool to minimize environmental damage and improve food security. A new movement- a renaissance perhaps- which integrates forest ecosystems into manmade habitats and social spaces has been growing throughout the world. The name of this movement: food forests.

Food forests are spaces that combine the incredible environmental benefits of forests with food production. Food forests have sprung out of the permaculture field, which is a method of design that places nature, people, and equality at its core. Permaculture and food forests seek to mimic the intelligence, sustainability, and harmony of natural systems and use it symbiotically for human needs, such as water, energy, shelter, and food.

But why forests?

Forests are spaces that are teeming with life. They have been around for 460 million years, and in that time have perfected the art of creating and housing biodiversity, being self-sufficient, providing nutrients to the soil, growing nourishing fruits and nuts, storing water, and so much more! Forests have provided shelter, clothing, and food for 95% of mankind’s existence. They also create a habitat for 50-90% of all terrestrial species!

Today, the movement to create more food forests goes back to these basic and essential elements, such as- of course- cleaning our air, but they also go beyond that. Because many trees are perennial (provide fruit several times a year) they are able to provide more calories faster than annual harvests.

The foods that trees provide are also incredibly healthy for us and are made up of our favorite fruits- peaches, mangoes, avocados- and also protein and calorie-dense nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pecans.  Other trees, such as moringas, have superfood leaves that are saturated in essential and hard to get vitamins and minerals.

Trees are constantly producing and reproducing and nurturing the life around them. By planting more food forests in urban areas, we can increase biodiversity and food security, improve soil quality, and create a sense of wellness and community.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.

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