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Planting ‘Forest Gardens’ Can Promote a More Sustainable Food System

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • When an area is left to its own devices, it will naturally turn into a forest over time, replete with a wide variety of plant species, and this diversification occurs unaided by man
  • You can mimic this kind of naturally occurring ecosystem by planting a “forest garden” where fruit and nut trees grow intermingled with shrubs, herbs, vines and a variety of perennial vegetables in a seemingly wild-grown setting
  • U.K.-based Martin Crawford is a pioneer of forest gardening. Despite growing 500 different edible plants and trees, his garden only requires a few hours of maintenance per month, as the wide variety of plants and trees all work symbiotically to eliminate pest problems and support optimal growth
  • “System plants” help the system as a whole thrive. These include nitrogen-fixing plants, mineral accumulators and plants that attract pollinators and predator insects
  • Aside from being low-maintenance, plant and tree diversification protects crops from being decimated by inclement weather. While some may fail, others may benefit, but in many cases, a majority of your crops will thrive regardless of weather conditions

A process known as “succession” occurs when one plant species replaces another. As explained in the National Geographic short film featured above, when an area is left to its own devices, it will naturally turn into a forest over time, replete with a wide variety of plant species, and this diversification occurs unaided by man.

The film features a man-made “forest garden” designed to mimic this kind of naturally occurring ecosystem, where fruit and nut trees grow intermingled with shrubs, herbs, vines and a variety of perennial vegetables in a seemingly wild-grown setting. According to National Geographic:


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