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PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES AND THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY

PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES AND THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY

THE WAY NATURE PROVIDES

Imagine walking down a country road. On one side of the road, you see acres and acres of corn grown in neat rows. On the other side of the road stands an old-growth forest filled with towering trees and a thick underbrush. If you were to ask anyone which side of the road produced the most food, almost everyone would say that the cornfield is a symbol of abundance; and while the forest might be pretty, it is simply not productive.

We have been taught that food can only be grown in orderly rows and that the wildness of nature might be pretty but simply can´t provide for our well-being and sustenance. Imagine, now, that you turn off that country road and begin to walk through the old growth forest. Underneath a pine tree, you might find thousands of pine nuts scattered on the ground. Oyster and shitake mushrooms sprout from decaying logs while a flush of morel mushrooms blooms in a patch of fallen leaves.

A wild blueberry bush provides fresh fruit in a clearing while currants grow well in the shade of the larger trees. You might even come across a gnarly, old apple tree providing an abundant crop. The thick forest provides a great habitat for deer, turkey, and other tasty wildlife as well. Hundreds of other less known edible greens may make up part of the ground cover of the forest floor.

Nature always tends towards abundance, though it may not be the neat and orderly abundance that we see in the cornfield. The production of edible foodstuffs in an old growth forest may very well outcompete the cornfield on a calorie by calorie basis.

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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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