Can Food Forest Save The World?

The world urgently needs alternatives for our agricultural system. The food forest is a way of agriculture that works with nature instead of exploiting it. The usual laws of farming do not apply: there is no annual plowing, hedging, sowing, mowing and spraying of pesticides. The forest is planted once and then only the annual harvesting takes places. “A paradise for lazy farmers” according to food forest owner Wouter van Eck. In contrast to the monoculture of conventional fields, the food forest attracts a thriving community of dozens of plant and tree species that, in addition to food, also provide nature.

Scientists have been warning for many years against the problems that come with our current agricultural practices: climate, biodiversity, fertility. Food forests don’t have these issues. They absorb carbon, enrich the soil and increase biodiversity. Theoretically food forests can feed the world. Calculations show that they can provide more nutritional value per acre than normal crops.

Van Eck’s Ketelbroek forest offers the usual suspects such as apples, pears, prunes, and walnuts. But around the corner you can also find szechuan pepper, nashi, kaki fruit, mongolian lemons, chinese mahogany and bamboo spouts.

Volkskrant journalist Mac van Dinther spent a year walking around the Ketelbroek food forest in Groesbeek to talk, watch and taste. He reported on this in a four-part series of articles in the Volkskrant : Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. These reports are now bundled, supplemented with an epilogue and beautifully illustrated with photos by Henk Wildschut, winner of the prize for the best Dutch photo book with Ville de Calais in 2019.

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