Deforestation and poverty are inextricably linked in many areas of the developing world. Nearly a third
of world’s population live in poor rural communities,
and farming is responsible for 80% of the deforestationac ross Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
However, through the forest garden approach, small farm plots can help to restore natural resources and be the key to rural poverty reduction.
The forest garden, which mimics the diversity of a
forest ecosystem, aims to increase and sustain incomegenerating opportunities and food security, while restoring biodiverse tree cover. Forest gardens can be designed to thrive in almost any environment - from the arid lands of West Africa to the humid uplands of the Phillipines. This makes them a viable solution for the millions of farmers, throughout the world, faced with the challenge of creating a livelihood solely from an inherited piece of degraded farmland.
The forest garden incorporates a variety of tree species, as well as other crops, together in a horizontal and vertical design that provides sustainable sources of food, firewood, fodder and marketable products.
The initial step in growing a forest garden is designing
a smart plan.
During our training workshops farmers identify what they need for their household and what they can sell in local markets. They learn to map their fields and create a vision for tree planting. Where zero tree cover exists, fast-growing nitrogen fixing trees are planted first, to improve soil quality and provide cover from the harsh sun and wind. Beneath the fastgrowing trees, farmers learn to layer-in a wide variety of fruit and nut-bearing trees. Timber trees form the tallest layer of the forest garden, providing shade for other crops and sustainable income for the next generation.
Among these trees, farmers learn how to intercrop vegetables and integrate livestock, bees and poultry.
The forest garden’s strength is in its diversity and
flexibility in design. Fresh fruits and vegetables help
improve the nutrition of farming families. Surplus of
fruits, firewood, animal forage, berries, oils, medicines,
insecticides and other tree products are sold to local
markets for profit. By meeting the needs of people and the planet, forest gardens provide a practical, replicable and scalable pathway out of poverty.