Homo sapiens have been around for nearly 200,000 years and have subsisted from a horticultural model for 90% of that time. Agriculture only dates back to 10-12 thousand years ago. As omnivores, we integrated ourselves into the available food system, we hunted, foraged, gathered fruits and nuts along with selecting seeds to plant in specific auspicious places. Archaeologists are now finding that the people of the Americas may have been here longer and were greater in numbers than we suspected. Living on game and perennials versus annuals like modern agriculture does made our impact on the environment nearly null. It is with tilling, mono cropping, irrigation and the cutting of trees for fuel and shelter that we begin to deplete the vegetative skin, ruin our soil and create deserts. In addition with agriculture comes the necessity of guarding the yield, which requires soldiers and armies. Add petroleum (“cheap energy” not really when one inventories the cost to health, environment and culture) and greed to the equation and we have modern, industrialized agriculture, which is increasing deserts, using water and creating devastation at an alarming rate. What took Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia tens of thousands of years to create: a huge desert. We are creating in the USA in less than one hundred years with the dust bowl and the depletion of one of the largest aquifers known to man Olgallala, as proof of our own foolishness.
Like a lay up in basketball, one must go back a few steps to get a running start and jump to make the basket, we must look at how we fed ourselves in the past take note and move forward. Edible food forests are part of our heritage that must be revived. That is why David Jacke, teacher and author of Edible Food Gardens, is coming to New Mexico to teach us how to integrate forestry as part of our renewable food and energy chain.
I asked Jacke what his workshop is about and he responded by saying: “Ecosystem agriculture intends to create food-producing habitats that mimic natural ecosystem properties, principles, patterns, and processes. This workshop explores the vision, theory, design, and practice of ecosystem agriculture using temperate forest ecosystems as the primary general model, and one or two habitats of the Santa Fe region as specific models. Lectures, field observations, and experiential classes will reveal the nature of ecosystem architecture, social structure, underground economics, and succession. Participants will draw conclusions from these experiences, developing practical design principles, practices, patterns, and processes for garden design and management. Once we “get” the bigger patterns that connect, we will focus on the natty gritty of perennial polyculture design.”
Our ancestors lived on this land for millennia with a polyculture that Jacke describes as “an effective perennial polyculture is a mixture of useful perennial plants that minimizes competition, creates additive yields, and minimizes the gardener’s work and outside inputs. Polyculture design is the most interesting and challenging part of the forest garden design process. This workshop explores the specific ecological theories behind polyculture design through experiential classes and design exercises. Participants will design at least one perennial polyculture during class using Niche Analysis, Guild Build, Ecological Analogs, Patch Design, or other processes.”
Santa Fe Community College on May 30, June 1 and June 2, 2013. Friday 7-9pm and Saturday and Sunday workshops are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission is $10 for Friday night, $175 for each full day or $300 for all three days. Discounts are available. Call 505-819-3828 for more information. To register online click here.
Seattle food forest: