What Is The Forest Garden Approach?

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The Forest Garden Approach, a tree planting training program created by Trees for the Future, utilizes trees as a pathway out of poverty for food-insecure communities. Restaurantware has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant 100,000 trees in Forest Gardens to transform deserted areas into an environment where families can live off the land.

The idea begins by establishing a green wall consisting of fruit-producing trees that act as a border to encourage soil regeneration and create an environment capable of growing fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other food sources. The concept applies innovative techniques in agroforestry to create a model that helps families optimize their land for growing and selling produce. The trees planted in the perimeter of the Forest Garden release leaves which produce leaf litter to fix the nitrogen in the soil. Once the green wall is formed, community farmers are trained and supplied with seeds and tools then spend their first year in the program honing their skills to establish a prosperous garden.

What Are The Benefits Of Forest Gardens?

The Forest Garden Approach is guided by two main questions for each region: what do you need and what can you sell? Every Forest Garden is unique to the necessities of each community and allows them to thrive in an area that was formerly barren.

Creates A Sustainable Environment

Each Forest Garden is developed in an area that previously consisted of dry, dead soil where trees were cut down to make room for farming and to house livestock. The removal of these crucial environmental factors and the worsening climate crisis left families residing in these areas with limited food and resources. The Forest Garden program teaches farmers how to manage the amount of sun, shade, and water on their land to capture the water when it rains and allow the soil to recharge and become healthier. Each tree or crop planted produces less carbon in the atmosphere and helps fight climate change while promoting a more sustainable lifestyle for communities.

Families Don’t Have To Depend On One Crop To Survive

Many families in the developing world rely on one type of crop which leaves them vulnerable to possible droughts, pests, and market prices, removing any possible source of income for the year. The Forest Garden Approach allows farmers to diversify their crops to harvest each year. Farmers can choose from vegetables, nuts, timber, fuelwood, and other crops they need to grow sustainable sources of food and income for their communities. The program trains farmers to optimize their space, time, the sun, and water to maximize their real estate. Whether they’re growing avocados in Tanzania or cashews in Senegal, all families are taught to manage their crops to keep their Forest Garden flourishing.

Promotes Organic Farming Over Chemical Farming

Trees for the Future trains farmers to use techniques that provide a high level of productivity for a variety of crops without the need for expensive, commercial additives such as pesticides and fertilizers. Unlike conventional farming, which includes chemical fertilizers, the Forest Garden Approach teaches organic farming so that families can safely sell and eat foods that haven’t been treated with chemicals. With less harmful chemicals being used, farmers don’t have to be reliant on commercial inputs and learn how to grow organic, healthy plants on their own.

Allows Families To Support Themselves

The families and the Forest Garden have a symbiotic relationship where the farmers take care of the garden and the garden takes care of them. The produce grown in each garden not only supplies each community with food but also allows them to sell their organic produce at local markets. With the income made from selling their produce, families are able to buy necessities, like soap and clothing, to provide for their households. From water conservation to pest management, the skills each farmer acquires from the program enable them to pass on their knowledge and prevent future generations from being forced to leave their land.

How Have Forest Gardens Impacted Communities?

The Forest Garden Approach has had a significant impact on ending hunger and poverty in the communities they work with. Before the Forest Garden Approach was introduced, 83% of families were considered severely food insecure in areas where the conditions were dire. After one year in the program, food insecurity in those areas dropped to 14%. To date, 690 families have graduated from the four-year program and in the next two years, 2,921 families are expected to graduate. Restaurantware has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant 100,000 trees to help support communities in need and to boost beneficial environmental change.

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