We all know about climate change. We’ve been told about greenhouse gasses, we’ve seen the dramatic images of ice shelves collapsing into the ocean, and yeah, maybe the weather in our area has been a bit more severe lately. For the majority of Americans, this is how we see climate change: news reports, videos from the arctic, and the occasional inconvenience. What we don’t see is the impoverished farmer struggling to provide for his family. What we don’t see is his fight against drastically fluctuating markets, against degrading seed quality, and against even mother nature herself when the rains come less frequently, at ever-changing times, or sometimes, not at all. What we don’t see is the human element. Every year millions of farmers and their families face severe risks that threaten not only their livelihood, but the survival of their family. Climate change and its resulting weather extremes and abnormalities are increasingly stacking the odds against those who have the most to lose. These farmers and their families are the least prepared to weather climate change and the first to suffer from its impacts. One crop failure is enough to send their lives into an irrecoverable downward spiral.
ENTER FOREST GARDENS
Imagine a system of agriculture that analyzes and works to mitigate the risks for these farmers. A system that requires only knowledge, a little monetary investment, and the desire to combat climate change while simultaneously building a safety net for millions of farmers in the world’s most at-risk areas.
At Trees for the Future, we have imagined such a system and we’ve already implemented it to positively change the lives of millions of farmers and their families. We call this system the Forest Garden Approach. From analyzing and mitigating risks to providing farmers with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed, this approach is based around a simple, yet effective premise. But it’s also adaptable, promotes resiliency among local populations, and combats the effects of climate change. The Forest Garden Approach does not rely on a specific collection of crops or set farming technologies. Rather, the success of this system comes from examining real risks as defined by farmers and researchers, and implementing the optimal set of solutions to protect farms from present and future threats.