from waste not to food forest

Well! It’s been awhile! Things have really gotten moving around the old Waste Not YXE, and it’s been extraordinarily exciting to behold! Cass’s and my friend Melissa approached us a few months back with the idea of starting a Facebook group and starting to put out some challenges to the community… and holy heck, the response has been so inspiring!

With all of these wonderful things happening, perhaps some of you have noticed that I’ve been a little bit absent from the picture. Cass and Melissa and Eliza and Christine have been rockin’ it on the FB group and the challenges, and I’m super proud and grateful to see that happening. While in the meantime I’ve gotten involved in an entirely different project that I think everyone who follows Waste Not YXE will also be excited about.

One of the big things that the waste not lifestyle has gotten me thinking about is how we as a culture and a society can start to overcome the commodification of… well everything, really. Our lives revolve around money to a *huge* degree, and ironically I think we’re deeply impoverished as a result. We’re disconnected from the natural world, and we’re running off our collective feet to try to balance a debt equation that is literally unsolvable (more on that here).

So. What do we do? Not making garbage has been a life altering first step for me personally, but  deep seated change is still needed in the entire system if human society is going to continue into the future indefinitely. It’s an enormous proposition, but as they say a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. So… I’ve been looking at the food system as a good place to start on implementing large scale change.

To that end, a group of us has formed with the intention of planting a food forest in Saskatoon.

Food forest layers

“What the heck is a food forest?”

I’m glad you asked! Let me explain!

Agroforestry is essentially an innovative (but actually ancient) form of agriculture that seeks to mimic the “closed loop system” of a natural forest, thereby decreasing the need for maintenance whilst simultaneously increasing yields. Traditional agriculture breaks up the soil, plants a crop (usually annual), fertilizes, fights weeds and pests and disease, and harvests when the crop is ripe. Whereas a food forest plants multiple layers of primarily perennial crops in such a way that each species supports the others, soil health is enhanced rather than depleted, wildlife habitat is created rather than destroyed, etc. etc. etc. I could seriously go on for hours. There’s really too much goodness to get into in this short blog post, but you can find out more here.

My friend Mark and I were chatting about the idea over beers back in November, and he took a page from Cassandra’s decisiveness book and emailed city council about the idea the next morning. They were open to hearing a proposal, and somehow, miraculously, a whole host of competent, passionate, dedicated, experienced people have come out of the wood to help bring the idea to fruition (smirk, sorry). Long story short, our intention is to acquire some city land and plant a bunch of fruit trees, berry bushes, tubers, herbs, etc. These would then all be available for free to the community throughout the growing season. It’s going to be an enormous amount of work, but I have absolute confidence in our group to make it happen. I really can’t tell you how good it feels to be working on a project that is so grounded in the Land, and that has the potential to go on to benefit generations and generations of people.

SO! We’re in the process of researching possible sites, and negotiating with the city. You can keep apprised of the happenings on our Facebook group, or get more involved by sending a message to saskatoonfoodforest@gmail.com.

Onward!

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