We can think of at least 180 great forest garden & perennial crops for cold climate Sweden. Want to hear about them? Over the course of the next year we will profile 5 a week on the blog. Perennial plants and crops offer a low energy, oil & resource input based foundation for future-proof agricultures. By default if an agriculture is to be called regenerative the bottom line is that it must be soil building, not soil depleting. Relentless deep tillage & poor soil husbandry (wifery?!) contributes to the majority of the 24 billion tons of topsoil lost every year on planet water. We are going to be focused on holistic polyculture grazing and perennial production at ridgedale over most of the site as this represents the most effective way to restore our degraded landscape, produce high value produce and ensure the future resource base we are managing holistically for in our decision making.
Having had the pleasure of visiting and researching some of the best agroforestry sites in Europe I thought some folks might enjoy this interview I filmed with Professer Martin Wolf over in Suffolk, UK. The video is probably far too slow if you suffer a 3-minute-social-media-saturated-attention-span but personally I would happily sit and listen to Martin for hours.
The video begins with Martin recounting his work as a grain disease specialist at Cambrige University- which led to broad scale East German adoption of multi- variety grain production and subsequent huge reductions in fungicides (which quickly fell apart when the wall came down) 350,000 ha under this production system in Germany sadly fell to 20,000ha almost overnight.
Here's a short film I made with Joseph Holzer up at the Krameterhof last summer. Located 1100 - 1500m above sea level in the Lungau Region in the heart of Austria, this is still one of the best farms in Europe in my mind. With 1.7 days over 30°C (86F), 25 days above 25°C (77F) there is over 160 days of frost including 50 days with no water flow. The systems are very well established, diverse & complex- even to a trained eye it is a lot to take in. Apologies the subtitles are not as clear as they deserve to be, having lost the original files I have done all I can with this colour change.
Humans spent many thousands of years breeding out grasses into the staple grain crops we are addicted to in the majority of our global diets today. The problems with corporate, monocultural, machine, oil, energy, capital & resource intensive annual- based agriculture are self- evident looking at the state of soils, communities & economies globally. Perennial plants have the potential to restore degraded ecosystems and provide for our basic carbohydrate needs with much lower external inputs. Badgersett are doing awesome work in the US breeding out hardy and disease resistant Hazel & Chestnut (amongst others). Future-proof farming will incorporate a lot more solid perennial crops and holistically managed grazing systems, it's why we are designing our farm primarily around these systems. We need a lot more advocation and incentives for people working to breed up productive hardy lines here in Scandinavia. This video shows a chestnut product developed by Badgersett- a polenta that is steamed, extruded in a "ricer", then dried; can be used like either corn meal or whole wheat flour, is gluten free, and will keep for a full year at room temperature. Work involved is about the same as canning tomatoes.
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