Food Forests as Edible Novel Ecosystems

before after backyard

I’m fascinated by the idea that humans now live on a planet that is no longer “wild”. Because of our influence we have changed the face of the living world forever, climate change only being the newest and largest disturbance by our species. Paradise Lot is a microcosm of the impact humans are capable of – in this case a positive impact.

Eric and I designed and implemented an “edible novel ecosystem” made up of native and non-native plants on land once devoid of much diversity. It is likely that the assemblies of plants we planted together have never grown in quite this way ever, and yet life is thriving, producing increasing abundance.

I’m currently reading a book called,” The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Natures Salvation” by Fred Pearce. Essentially he proposes that our “saving nature” “conserve biodiversity” efforts are misguided. If we objectively look at the science and understand how quickly the biosphere is changing, nature evolves well on it’s own, and has for billions of years, that disturbance and change is good. That all animal and plants are welcome no matter how and where the assemble. Here is a quote from him that sums up the book nicely:

“Conservationists need to take a hard look at themselves and their priorities. They must learn from Puerto Rico and Chernobyl, the Tilbury ash heap, and Bikini Atoll, the feral streets of Chicago, and the wider world of novel ecosystems. Nature no longer congregates only where we expect to find it, in the countryside or in “pristine” habitats. It is increasingly eschewing formally protected areas and heading for the badlands. Nature doesn’t care about conservationists’ artificial divide between urban and rural or between native and alien species. If conservationists are going to make the most of the opportunities in the twenty-first century to help nature’s recovery, they must put aside their old certainties and ditch their obsessions with lost causes, discredited theories, and mythical pristine ecosystems.”

Along with this, I might add that when considering how humanity will treat “the new wild” from here on, we design-in diverse useful and edible plant and animal communities when restoring our landscapes. Instead of thinking what might seem best for nature based on historical assumptions, we design for what could be the most abundantly useful to us and our fellow species, considering the environment and culture of each place.

Human’s have the potential to be destroyers or creators. The earth and life will continue on despite what we do. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if we came along for the ride.



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