Forest of Foods

.. in the making.

My partner bought some interesting points to me recently – this article is one of the few showing the benefits of growing and maintaining your own fruit and vegetables.

The other angle is pesticides, sure, you wash the food, but the soil the food is grown in isn’t the best. My thoughts there are pesticide + pesticide = double the pesticide.

Farming practices aren’t the best for the planet – the above link shows the wider picture of just what going to the supermarket to pick up 1 apple contains.

The loss of nutrients is incredible as well:

In terms of loss of nutrients consider the tomato:

  • Green harvesting loses up to 25% of its nutrients
  • Transporting loses up to 25% of its remaining nutrients
  • Storage loses up to 50% of its remaining nutrients
  • Canning loses up to 83% of its remaining nutrients
  • Cooking loses up to 50% of its remaining nutrients.

This leaves the tomato with 2.39% of it original nutrient content.

I wonder if we’ll ever see fruit and vegetable signs in the shops that state ‘2.39% tomato’.

<a href="”>HappyEarth is a website maintained by people in Wollongong – they’ve taken their 900m2 block and planted it out massively.

The link shows what does make sense, “You are what you eat” is the old line I associated with it. I wonder what Farmer Joe does to improve the soil / crop / his profits.

We don’t wish to deprive the kids of that backyard space, so about two weeks back, I built 5 raised garden beds out of Colorbond and Merbau Decking material – the price worked out much better than buying the smaller and awkward Bunnings variety and the material is perfect for the purpose.

The design is chemical free – we are going to use absolutely no pesticides, no treatments that aren’t natural. The nutrients the plants will source from worm compost – which is to be setup.

We started the seedlings back in August, the seedlings took off like lightning, growing out of the punnets and overgrowing the pots we bought to start the seedlings in – a sign that at least, we can get seedlings moving.

It’s not a far stretch to get a seedling tomato vine into a full grown tomato vine, likewise for the various other edibles that can be progressed.

Food production holds a massive impact on the planet at large, the farming process is flawed in that manner. Transport and keeping foods frozen long enough for someone to pick the ‘freshest’ from the week or months old pile is wasteful.

We hit one fundamental issue back in the planning stages – what do you eat when the particular food is not in season. Apples aren’t out all year round, likewise, Potato. So, to eat when it’s not in season – what do the supermarkets do? Buy in from where it is in season ? Transport. Freeze last seasons stock in advance? Wasteful!

So, we plan to change eating habits too – seasonal. If it’s not in season, you shouldn’t be able to have it.

And I thought more about that. What did the aboriginals do for such food ? They lived off the land, no shops – no freezers. They must have only ever ate seasonal foods – along with the hunted fish and meat they did not mass produce.

There is the waste of the mass produced items going off – in the event they are not consumed – no one wants mince that’s green. Likewise, Bananas that are black aren’t ideal – so they get wasted, the whole farm, harvest, transport, package, freeze, transport, display processes are all wasted if they end up in the bin.

The rainwater tank is the next idea to be pushed in – then if it’s not sunny, and raining, we are at least getting benefit from it.

We’ve got some fruit trees further back that we’ve added – two apples (they need em for pollination), mandarin, orange and lemon. The lemon tree was truly the lemon of the lot, with barely much leaf growth on it – the ones it had at the nursery were all pretty brown. There was some light new growth on it (that was pretty good), I figured I’d try and save it as opposed to one which had some more greener growth.

We won’t be able to get anything out of the trees for at least 6 months – so it’s got time to be revived.

We’ve looked further into it before we decided to go ahead – mostly at the impact it would have – then the desired growth and harvest numbers, and lastly the financial benefits derived.

The impact it would have wouldn’t be a lot – on a worldwide scale our minute change would only mean we are not contributing to the larger problem. We would however be slightly more self sufficient, so that was a plus.

The desired growth and harvest numbers were to be enough that there was a meal possible out of the forest grown for the week, with excess allowed for plant failure. I figured seeding weekly would allow for enough – turns out that was too much, we have watermelon seedlings occupying a 2m by 1m bed with exception 6 rockmelons (we planted them close together). We saw reports of Bananas – 125KG of them off the one bunch – Amazing.

Whilst it’s always going to be the case that this will work (else I would not have started). The project / experiment will be how far can this go, to removing demand for packaged and processed foods?

This website here, links to an experiment they conducted back in 2005. A very interesting read. It’s notable they broke their self imposed rules a few times (they wrote about them, but they don’t count them as they should do).

The short of that was they tried to live without spending a dollar. The test would be interesting if they didn’t focus on dollars, but I think it shows that one can manage to live in a world without currency, if they first have established a source of a replacement.

Take a dollar, replace it with a corn kernel, take a corn kernel, replace it with a lettuce leaf – etc.  That would always happen if the world at large lost faith in currency, the people at the top with the most money would be at the bottom, the farmers who grow the most used resources would be toward middle to high income earners, and the highest would be those who needed nothing at all.

I’m probably off the beaten track here now.

We’ve looked into it extensively, the benefits are hoped to be:

– More nutrients that our bodies require actually reaching our bodies.
– Less waste caused by supporting practices that aren’t ideal.
– Some adventure and self education in plant life.
– The kids get a better idea of how to be self sufficient (if we ever reach that ultimate goal).

We’ve got the backyard space for it, we would be nuts not to.

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