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6095Re: [pfaf] UK Forest Garden Cycle Tour

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  • Frank Woolf
    May 14, 2013
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      Hi Christopher.  I wish I could write as well as you do:)

      OK thank you.  Now I see that we are both thinking along pretty much the same lines but just coming at it from different angles.

      I was born and brought up in Croydon, South London.  As soon as I married I could wait to get out of the city so I moved to the cotswold hills near Cheltenham where I worked for the British Foreign Office and grew all my veggies.  In 1972 I was posted to Hong Kong, back in a city again.

      In 1994 after a divorce and marriage to a Filipino I moved to Manila, Philippines.  Still in a city but I got out of the city often.

      Five years ago I was able to move to Davao, Philippines.  The fruit basket of the country.  For over 20 years I had been planning a self sustaining permaculture farm and food forest and a year ago I at last bought the land and got started.

      What I see here is that over 90% of the land has coconuts, some small banana farms and very little else.  The locals tend to just follow what their parents did.  Most are uneducated and have little or no access to books or the internet.

      Most of this very large island of Mindanao is farm land and most of the farms are 5 hectares or less because the government decided nobody could own more than 5 hectares.  If you have more they buy it at rock bottom price and give it to people who have none.  The result is by far the majority of these farms are owned by people who are not interested in working on the land.  Most just grow coconuts that in most cases they didn't even plant.  Some take the trouble to plant cacao or coffee or other cash crops under the coconuts but most do nothing more than sit around watching the coconuts grow.  Most of these people are close to starving.  When I talk to them they insist on growing cash crops but the cash they get is not enough to buy food.

      As gas prices go up and climate change has its effect their food gets more expensive and the cash they get for their crops gets less.  They will certainly not listen to a white man and will insist on their hand me down knowledge as being correct.  The keep telling my I can't grow this or that for various reasons like "That doesn't grow here" and I keep proving them wrong.  They do have some good local knowledge but its buried in rubbish passed around by those who really don't understand it.  They will say "It is that way just because it is"

      After a year my 6 acre food forest and veggie patch is coming along really well.  I hope that soon I will reach the point where they can come and see that they can grow all their own veggies and fruit, keep chickens, raise fish etc, etc to produce more food than they need and still have some cash crops.  

      There are of course various plantations and they use all the poisons but they are very much the minority.  Right now I am a tiny island farm surrounded by miles of mostly wasted land.  As brief as I can - I have about 65 different types of fruit trees and one acre of densely planted veggies and herbs of every type I can get to grow.  There are probably around 600 trees in all.  I am raising chickens who work the land and fertilize while growing for meat and producing eggs .  The fish pond is stocked with tilapia and helps with attracting ground and tree frogs, birds and bees.  The rabbit tractor is ready for the rabbits. I am right now making bee hives (locals destroy wild bee nests to get the honey and kill the tiniest birds and frogs for food). I have worm bins breeding worms and creating great fertilizer and will soon get a few pigs.

      My water system uses freely available water but is a bit complicated.  I am working on solar water heating and heating water via rocket mass stoves and a wood burning oven whenever cooking is done.

      There are plenty of challenges like the fact that most people here think it is perfectly OK to steal for anyone who seems to have more than they do.  I have very large dogs (Great Danes) who take guard duty very seriously. They have so far kept any thieves at bay.

      I guess that gives you a good idea of where I am.

      Best regards

      Frank



      On May 14, 2013, at 10:56 PM, Christopher McCOY wrote:

       

      Hi Frank,
       
      To clarify, it is, in my opinion, an error to reduce that which I stated in my own opus reply to Darren's communique as merely 'being against a great variety in private gardens'. I did state that local variation is of importance, and it is, and I mean that. However, when that is done in tunnel-visioned ways, perhaps bounded by what the local plant nurseries sell at the time or by what the horticultural television programmes suggest at the time, say, at the expense of correct awareness of the multitudinal scales/wavelengths of natural and wildlife interactions and where food comes from around the world, then not only are cohesive ecosystems and connections and tele-connections not aided but they are intentionally or inadvertently fragmented, barriered-off, bounded,  forgotten, disregarded, fenced-off behind household castle-walls by owners who, thus-far, 'Defend their Keep', so to speak. Like Zoos. You can go into a Zoo and call it diverse. But the Zoo animals can't so easily travel between cages, or zoos, unless with human orchestration and permission, likely tagged/tracked.
       
      In the UK it is currently typical to have gardens ranging from all -in-one concrete, to primarily or only lawns perhaps with borders, to diverse flowering designs, to vegetable patches, to the occasional fruit tree, and anything in-between. The countryside is significantly large agricultural fields of arable crops or pasture for animals, bounded by minimal hedgerows, with only here and there remnants of woodlands of any notable size and diversity. Many fruit trees require several different pollination partners to fruit. This requires consideration either of the size and design of one plot, which is able to receive sufficient varieties for pollination on that one plot and/or it requires consideration of the availability of other such fruit trees situated close enough in the local or regional area spaces over several plots. - which requires some form of co-ordinated plan or community agreements. That is also the case scaled-up and scale-down  spatially and temporally for other plants and animals and fungi/spore etc...in addition to human requirements for food and drink and materials etc. Many migrant birds and butterflies, for example, find themselves very limited in habitat, due to human design choices that, to the human, look diverse, seem fashionable, may even look nice, but are small in scale, not well-connected, are chopped-and-changed with sub-human-lifepsan fashion and whim and house-moves, and which do not care to perceive the multi-layered spatio-temporal interactions that are 'necessary' and appropriate for a wider and more multi-dimensional cohesive natural world to flourish and have some stability and adaptability even under changing conditions.
       
      Presently, in the UK, gardening for appearance, for pretty flowers or colourful foliage or flat uniform monocultural-grass lawns is a norm, which the humans deem to be pretty and so support, and which the businesses and nurseries pander to because there's a fashionable market. and profit to be made. Next year the fashion will be different, the gardeners experts on television will advise something else, and its chopping and changing the garden plants around yet again. Many of the animals and plants don't know whether they are coming or going, especially the larger animals and plants with longer-timescale lives, because the humans like to chop and change things in such short sub-human-lifespan geological time that stability is rare. Diversityy is not everything. You can be as Diverse as you like and be out of tune with the nature further around, and 'fall' in consequence.
       
      A significant aspects of 'Diverse Gardens' and Gardening generally, in the UK for example, is that proportionately very little is used to grow human foods, drinks, fibres, dyestuffs, and similarly, as well as more cohesively aiding the wider natural world and forms of life. Instead, they are more like playgrounds, artistic colour-scapes, visual and smelly designs, but the presumption that someone else is taking care of everything somewhere 'out there' is underlying and endemic. 'Diverse' such gardens may be, but inedible to humans they also often significantly or entirely are. A desert can be highly diverse, but you'd still die of famine if left in it! The owners, some of who may love their gardening, have an unspoken assumption that this is all fine and well and good, but MOST of the food that they eat comes from somewhere else distant out-of-sight out-of-mind somebody's-else's-problem around Planet Earth, Palm Oil-based ready-made supermarket foods from chopped-down and converted Rainforest easy-as-you-like on special offer today. But it's back to the Barbeque in the Diverse garden int he evening with a few drinks made hundreds/thousands of miles away...
       
      Many animals are killed as road kill, or trapped by fences, so cannot migrate or travel easily or at all through huge tracts of land covered in gardens and road designs that the humans may look upon with favour and, perhaps, pride and effort. One gardener might worry about the plight of, say, the White Admiral Butterfly, and plant suitable plants in his/her garden to try to help said Butterfly specie's survival. But all the other gardeners around and about may not choose thusly, so the tiniest island of fragmented habitat might be all that's left for the White Admiral in that entire region. The humans, however, look at the various pretty flowers in the neighbourhood and think its 'Diverse and thus good', whereas, as far as the wildlife is concerned, struggling to find the ability to travel, to migrate, to meet mates, to spread around, to find food and habitat, it isn't. If we were to walk a mile in a Hedgehog's shoes we might find mile after mile of shut-in closed-of walled fenced barriered-off gardens that are believed and agreed by all the human residents to be 'Diverse', which human residents attack anyone who doesn't support them. The Hedgehog, meanwhile, has no choice but to crawl across a busy four-lane road at night to find food and a mate. Many (most?) get squashed, and end up on Diverse-designs of 3D T-Shirt worn by smiling humans. There's money in making such T-Shirts...so people make them... it's apparently good for a laugh.
       
      In the Phillipines, where you state in your email that you are based Frank, am I correct to presume that there are still some rural remnants of semi-rainforest tropical/sub-tropical gardens for those who live there and who look after such gardens, which are closer to the Forest Garden? But I also presume that many millions of town and city dwellers who do not have gardens or who do not do all that much with those that they have - although it could be said that more tropical fruits and plants are culturally available to the populous by community norms in the Phillipines than, perhaps, here in the UK - and that they pretty much depend upon, for example, wide swathes of monocultural fruit, oil, rice, and similar such plantations, many of which are chemical'd to within and inch of their lives and shipped off, so they don't 'Forest Garden' all that much - and not in any notably contiguous way? Would that be a correct presumption, given where you are based Frank?
       
       
      From: Frank Woolf <frank@...>
      To: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, 14 May 2013, 11:09
      Subject: Re: [pfaf] UK Forest Garden Cycle Tour
       
      I don't understand why you are against a great variety in private gardens.  Without biodiversity we are screwed.

      Frank

      Southern Philippines. Zone 9+ (maybe)

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