Agroforestry and container gardening
AGROFORESTRY, CONTAINER GARDENING, CLIMATE CHANGE AND SEEDS FOR FOOD
Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Honorary Professor University of Ghent (Belgium)
Beeweg 36 – BE 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium)
We have been discussing with colleagues and friends the need to link forestry and agriculture (agroforestry) in order to motivate local people in the drylands to do the fieldwork of a reforestation project by offering them first a family garden at the very start of the project.
Hungry people with an empty stomach don’t plant thousands of trees easily and with enthusiasm. We have never been in favor of ‘Food for Work’, because it is not changing the cause of hunger. We would rather change it into ‘A Kitchen Garden for Work’.
The ‘Seeds for Food’ action is heading for a remarkable success (http://www.seedsforfood.org) and ‘Zaden voor Voedsel’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/306683870332/). People from all over Europe, even from Canada and the USA, are nowadays sending us seeds of vegetables and fruit trees. After proper treatment they are sent for free to different development projects in the drylands, e.g. to refugee camps, where people start constructing family (kitchen) gardens and school gardens.
We are convinced that people, in particular children, are strongly interested in container gardening. We have published photo albums on Facebook about some simple experiments we did at home, growing avocado seeds in plastic bottles and yogurt pots:
We also produced a number of YOU TUBE films on this subject, e.g. Building a bottle tower for container gardening : http://youtu.be/-uDbjZ9roEQ
Avocado seed (Persea americana) in a mini-greenhouse made of 2 yogurt pots
It is astonishing to see how visitors at home are amazed when looking at the wonderful aspects of developing seedlings in simple bottles or pots, not to mention the educational value of having all the stages of seedling development within hand reach. This should be done at every school. There is no better way to show youngsters the beauty of young trees and vegetables.
Avocado seedling developing in a yogurt pot with potting soil
Seedling developing in a mineral water bottle. Root development can be observed.
If ever we could convince all the school children of this world to grow some seedlings of fruit trees in pots and bottles at school, they could plant them at home or in the schoolyard and contribute to the greening of the earth. Wouldn’t it be remarkable if one could find fruit trees growing everywhere? Something to alleviate hunger starting from seeds in pots or bottles? Something to take care of our environment by collecting all the otherwise littered bottles and pots?
Left: avocado seedling with twin shoots. Right: an avocado seedling in the small bottom part of a yoghurt pot (see the start of the experiment with the mini-greenhouse above)
Strong avocado seedling in a mineral water bottle, ready to be planted in the field.
So, let us collect seeds in every country, seeds of vegetables, seeds of the fruits we are eating (normally thrown in the garbage bin or on the compost heap) and offer these “germs of new life” for free to the hungry of this world. Offering an opportunity to grow food crops in millions of family gardens and to grow fruit trees wherever we can plant them, is a straight way (an avenue, a highway!) to taking care of hunger, poverty and climate change. We are no dreamers, but scientists and social workers, tired of all that endless talking, talking, talking, but fit enough to offer full-heartedly their experience and expertise through supporting and participating in very practical actions.
Let’s reach hands to promote this inexpensive method.