Monday, October 8, 2012

The Free Food Forest

Last week I attended the monthly Permaculture meeting where the guest speaker Toby Hemenway author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture spoke. Most of what he talked about is here on his website: He also quotes Jared Diamond who wrote the article "The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race" referring to the "adoption of agriculture" by humans (

Toby Hemenway was making the argument that the development of agriculture was a big mistake. "Agriculture in any form is inherently unsustainable. At its doorstep can also be laid the basis of our culture’s split between humans and nature, much disease and poor health, and the origins of dominator hierarchies and the police state. He was proposing something in-between hunting and gathering or foraging and agriculture. He calls this horticulture or gardening, "using simple methods to raise useful plants and animals." Horticulturists use polycultures, tree crops, perennials, and limited tillage, and have an intimate relationship with diverse species of plants and animals." In other words, permaculture is the way to be growing food according to Toby.

His talk resonated with my own feelings, though I have never thought of myself as a permaculturist, I have always liked the idea of planting trees and more perennials. I started thinking that we should go further in that direction at the Free Farm. Even though we don't know how long we will be on the land at Eddy and Gough, we should plant more trees anyway and perennials, and make our Free Farm more of a Free Food Forest. We have already started already moving in that direction as Ross went to the Merritt College plant sale on Saturday and brought some perennial plants to the farm that we will be planting after they grow a bit more.

We have had some wonderful visitors to the Free Farm in the last few weeks. One day we had about 14 people visiting from a company called UBM (United Business Media) who were on a "quest" with a group called Leaders' Quest. They got their hands dirty as well as learned about the Free Farm. The purpose of their quest was ".... when we expose people (especially younger managers) to inspiring leaders working in different sectors from them, we can have an impact by causing them to think differently about the impact of their work, how they do more good and less harm, how they affect communities, and so forth." Last Saturday we had two women visiting from San Palo Brazil who are working on a project called Cidades para Pessoas (Cities for People). "we travel around the world with our folding bikes looking for good ideas that improved the cities for its inhabitants." They were a lot of fun to meet and work with and some of us will be in a short movie posted on their website (in Portuguese). Here are some nice photos from Julie who is one of our really helpful and always cheerful volunteers who is a great artist and vegan to boot. You can see all her photos from last Saturday here: Her blog that she writes is here has a lot of good information about vegan cooking and next week she is going to write about the Free Farm:

Juliana and Joyce who retured after a few weeks of illness
 still getting strawberries

 Natália and Juliana from Brazil harvesting
Yacón root

our seed collection

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Tree! And I love the idea of a Free Food Forest!