Restoration Agriculture: Balancing Agriculture and the Environment

Restoration agriculture posits that agriculture and natural environments do not have to be at odds—and that imitating nature may be the most efficient way to produce perennial food crops.

The polyculture block
A view from the "polyculture" block to the "north ridge chestnuts." The foreground is a polyculture that consists of four rows of hazels, then one row of chestnut, apple, serviceberry, mulberry, black alder and raspberry. The pattern is repeated several times over ten acres. This was done in an attempt to maximize tree canopy area exposed to the sun which should result in greater total photosynthetic yield. At the top of the ridge are young chestnut trees, planted with the intention of establishing a closed-canopy forest over time. Woody crops are planted at very high densities (oftentimes 1,000-4,000 tress per acre) in order to discover the genetic variants that are young to bear, heavy producers, and thrive under a regime of sheer, total, utter neglect. Losers in this human-guided process of natural selection are used as firewood, mushroom substrate or material for local craftsmen and wooden toy manufacturers.
Photo courtesy Acres U.S.A.