Friday, December 16, 2011

The 2000 year old food forest

In 1975, Geoff Lawton discovered a remarkable oasis in the Moroccan desert, a remnant of an ancient sustainable agriculture, the 2000 year old food forest farmed by 800 people. He returned to document it 28 years later. Date palms are the main overstorey species with an understorey of carob, bananas, quince, olives, figs, pomegranates, guava, citrus, mulberries, tamarinds, grapes... and many more smaller species. He found the food forest to have a wonderful atmosphere – cool, lush, shaded as if he was inside an organism, safe and secure yet surrounded by desert. Imagine a world where desert food forests stretch from North Africa to Central Asia in various forms. Geoff suggests we should document these food forests before all the young farmers migrate to the cities for work and they are lost forever. Our ancestors had a true knowledge of sustainable, extremely long term sustainable multi-species food systems. We are going to need them.

Geoff Lawton made the film Establishing a Food Forest which explains the patterns of a food forest and then he turns the theory into action, planting the seeds and watching the system grow. (Some species not suitable for N Europe.) He also visits other established food forests around the world.

Lawton, Geoff. 2011. "The 2000 year old food forest". Permaculture. Posted: December 9, 2011. Available online:

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