A food forest is not a panacea for our environmental woes. But in so many ways do food forests help us get out of the poo we are now in.
As a demonstration and learning facility, the Franklin Food Forest is coming along nicely. Monthly working bees are ensuring that the planned development work is continuing and maintenance needs are being met with the weekly friends gatherings.

One of the impacts of food foresting is an improvement in the resilience of the food, water and energy systems of our local communities.

friends_FFF_0031Resilience, or the ability to recover from adversity, will be one of the defining characteristics of successful communities as we face up to climate change.

This was brought home to the world very clearly last week with the announcement by the World Meteorological Organisation that 2015 was the hottest year on record.

Not only was 2015 the hottest year, it was the hottest by a significant margin even given the effect that this year’s El Niño weather pattern is having.

That we have reached 1°C of global warming already, with too little done by our leaders towards climate change adaptation or mitigation, means that we must now individually take climate action. The Franklin Food Forest is but one example of the actions any one of us could take.

So how does a food forest help build more resilience in to our food and water systems?

Food resilience is created when we avoid monoculture crops.

New Zealand’s vegetable crops will be affected should the Tau fly found in Manurewa last week, get established here. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) does not expect it to colonise Auckland but global warming is changing that expectation in the same way as it changes the crops that Franklin is climatically suited to growing.

The supply of basic vegetable staples like pumpkins, cucumbers, capsicum and beans are under threat from this bug.

Don’t forget the economic consequence of colonisation – around $1,000,000,000 of export earnings would be under threat.

Food forests are more productive and continue to supply food even when one crop fails.

Water resilience is improved when we avoid irrigating large volumes of water to dependent crops.

That our artesian water supply is already stretched was the reason for bringing piped water from the Waikato River to Pukekohe so do not say that future water shortages cannot happen.

A food forest consists of tree, shrub and herb layers with rooting zones at different soil depths. So a food forest captures more of the water that might otherwise drain away.

Further, the high soil carbon levels typically found in food forests, ensures that significantly more rainfall is retained and available to plants for a longer time.

A food forest is not a panacea for our environmental woes. But in so many ways do food forests help us get out of the poo we are now in. And so easy it is, for anyone to establish one.