The “Forest Garden Approach” applied by Trees for the Future, is an agroforestry method that is scalable, restores degraded land and provides nutritional and financial safety.
Trees for the Future chooses to work with farmers who have their own land and trains them, who are trained with their Forest Garden Program, explained below, over a four year period. This approach sustainably revitalizes the land of the farmers, while Trees for the Future provides them with training, seeds, tools, and the required materials. Thousands of trees are planted in the Forest Garden Program in order to protect the soil and bring the nutrients, moisture, and fertility back to it. As a result of the Program, the trees increase the long-term value of the land by converting desert-like landscapes into moist and fertile land. This enables the farmers to grow an increased variety of fruits and vegetables, in turn increasing their income up to 400% while creating food security.
The Forest Garden Program consists of four steps:
- Protection: this step is taught in the first two years, where farmers learn how to protect, stabilize and segment their field by growing about 2.500 fast-growing “fertilizer” trees and bushes that function as a protective barrier. This “Living Fence” (pictured above) keeps livestock and other pests out, protects the field from weather extremes and generates additional products that people can use or sell. The Living Fence enables Forest Garden farmers to increase their income and food security during the first year of implementation. This method protects a variety of crops like eggplant, tomato, pepper, maize, mint and more.
- Diversification: this step is taught from the second to third year. At this point the farmers learn to cultivate vegetable and fruit tree portfolios that meet the family’s priority nutritional needs and market opportunities over the year.
- Optimization: this step is taught in the final year. During year four the farmers are trained towards efficiently spacing trees and plants. As a result, they learn about advanced Forest Garden management and conservation techniques that optimize not only the productivity but also the long-term health of the land.
- Graduation: this is the last step of the program in which the farmers develop a sustainable strategy to stay self-sufficient.