Thursday, April 7, 2016

Food Forests

F is for Food forests.

Mangoes are in season. You see lots of them and in different varieties in markets and supermarkets.

Mango trees are a favourite here in tropical Malaysia. You can see a mango tree in almost every garden or compound, even outside the gate by the roadside.

I remember we used to have a mango tree (in our old house) that had big, sweet and juicy fruits that even trash collectors would pick them outside the fence of our house. It wasn't a big tree so the fruits would dangle low enough with a little stretching.

Besides mango, over here some common fruit trees people plant are the rambutan (that hairy fruit that come in red and yellow when they are ripe), jackfruit, star-fruit, pomelo, lemon, coconut, even the durian tree. To have fruits in your backyard can be convenient. I remember one time I visited a friend from school and she served me lemonade from a lemon she picked from her garden. How convenient! She just went out to the tree picked a nice yellow lemon and turned it into a drink. I was flabbergasted. Huh? Like that also can, as what we locals would say.

But I digress. I am supposed to be talking about Food forests. I stumbled upon a tape about a Food forest, Ron Finley's food forest project. Mr Finley is a guerilla gardener in South Central LA and is now a celebrity going around the US encouraging planting, converting food deserts to food forests. Watch this short video. It's eye-opening and inspiring at the same time.

Here's another video where he speaks at a TEDtalks session. The bio says Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

Two quotes I picked up from this video:

'Gardening is the most therapeutic and the finest act you can do, especially in the city.'

'If kids grow kale, they'll eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they'll eat tomatoes'.

The latter quote I think would strike a note with moms who have difficulty trying to get their kids to eat vegetables.

Happy planting!

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