- Date published:
6:15 am, April 11th, 2021 - 30 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming, food, sustainability - Tags: food forests, forest, forest gardening, Riverton, robert guyton forest gardener, robyn guyton
I’ve been wanting to write about sustainability for a while, taking a deepish dive into what it is, why it’s important, and how the mainstream is moving in the right direction but still allowing neoliberalism to co-opt and undermine it (aka greenwashing). Sustainability is meaningful when it incorporates some specific principles. It’s at core a state that arises from systems and the relationship between things. It’s not well understood with contemporary western thinking, although the best of the cutting edge sciences are digging into the holistic thinking required to make sense of it.
Below is an hour long video tour of Robert and Robyn Guyton’s 25 year old food forest on the South Coast of New Zealand in Riverton. This is an exemplar of active, medium term projects in New Zealand that showcase sustainability while building practice and generating new knowledge. The kind of knowledge we will need going into the climate change/eco crises storms.
As Robert talks about the particulars of their food forest, he’s also describing sustainability principles. These are about food forestry, but for the most part such principles also work on other areas including social and political aspects of human culture. Sustainability is fractal like that.
The Guyton’s food forest is one of the oldest in New Zealand of the modern food gardening movement that arose in the UK in the 80s from the pre-regenag subcultures. Humans have always forest gardened, in New Zealand when Europeans arrived and decided that nothing was being done with the land here and let’s chop down all the trees and grow grass and sheep instead, Māori were in fact forest gardening along with hunting/gathering and cropping. Forest gardening is the practice of working with nature in ways that allow the systems to sustain themselves for very long periods of time or indefinitely. Such systems have minimal extraction from offsite, and minimal pollution while also producing for various human needs. Lots to learn, and yes, no reason this cannot be done at scale.