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Food Forests Across America

Looking to take permaculture to the next level? Take a peek at this volunteer-based garden campaign: Erik Ohlsen’s Food Forest project is like food not lawns, only writ on a much bigger canvas.

Erik’s desire to make a positive contribution to the planet started when he was in his teens.

“At the age of nineteen I became aware of crises going on in the world.” He said “I learned about the risks of genetically engineered seeds, mainly the Terminator seed developed by Monsanto. I got together with some friends and we decided we wanted to do something to help save the world. We started an organization to give heirloom seed gardens away to our community and abroad to build a safety net of heirloom seeds and produce food locally. We called our organization Planting Earth Activation.(PEA) We gave over one hundred suburban and urban gardens away in two years. We were pioneers of the volunteer based garden campaigns that now are sprouting up everywhere with Victory gardens and Food not Lawns etc.”

Erik has been involved in Permaculture for the last 10 years.

”I just taught my 15th PDC this January in Cazadero, California” he says. “I’m a guest instructor for most of the PDCs that take place in Northern California.”

So what is Erik’s vision for a Food Forest Campaign?

“First let me share what I think the full expression of a food forest can be. Beyond the staple ingredients of a food forest; water harvest, tons of leguminous trees and plants, Fruit and nut trees, wildlife habitat, growing mulch and building soil, I also see some additional elements we can message as part of a food forest. Chickens, outdoor kitchens, greywater, gathering and celebration spaces are all elements that I think can be part of a full expression of a food forest. Combining the kitchen garden with the food forest with the social needs of humans seems like a great way to message a new aesthetic for landscapes.

“I believe that a key factor to halting energy decent and global warming is re-localizing community resource needs on a global scale. Food, water, social interaction, fuel, and energy, these can all be produced or managed locally. As a landscape contractor I see the aesthetic that people here in the Suburbs of US towns want. This cultural aesthetic of landscape is destructive, energy consuming, and pretty much useless. My goal is start a paradigm shift in the way that people view the aesthetics of landscapes and empower land owners to see their precious land as a functional part of their lives, a base of their resource needs and a solution to global scale issues (i.e., Climate Change, environmental destruction, etc.)

Read the whole article here.


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