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Food Forests Could Bring Healthy Organic Food To Everyone: For Free



Photo Credit: Getty

Andrew Martin, Onenesspublishing  

Food forests or Forest gardening have been around for a long time with many of the native cultures practicing this form of sustainable agriculture. It is a form of low-maintenance plant-based food production which replicates natural ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, running vines and perennial vegetables. Beneficial plants and companion planting is a big part of the food forest system.

Unlike much of the modern industrial agricultural system which relies heavily of inputs such as fossil fuels and artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, a food forest once established is self-regulating and highly abundant in yield. 

Why Food Forests?
  • Forests are home to approximately 50-90% of all the world’s terrestrial (land-living) biodiversity — including the pollinators and wild relatives of many agricultural crops (Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2010)
  • Tropical forests alone are estimated to contain between 10-50 million species – over 50% of species on the planet.
  • Rainforests cover 2% of the Earth’s surface and 6% of its land mass, yet they are home to over half of the world’s plant and animal species. 

It is evident that forests themselves are synonymous with life, biodiversity and fertility. Where life gathers, complex and mutually beneficial relationships are created between organisms; natural harmonious communities form, and life forms multiply and proliferate. If forests are where most of the life on the planet is, then anything less than a forest is most likely less suited to supporting life. Life supports life, yet we have forgotten that we are in fact part of the web of life itself, and depend on other life to sustain ours.

Unfortunately society has been conditioned to clear the land and create unsustainable fields which need high inputs to be maintained. Food forests are abundant and can yield significantly more than the conventional farming and mono cropping that dominates much of the industrial landscape today. As well as being high yielding food forests are high in biodiversity and life. Food forests can be developed and grown in most climate zones and because they involve vertical stacking are great for suburban and urban areas. Check out this clip to see how a couple have transformed a traditional suburban landscape into a highly productive forest garden.

The Layers Of A Food Forest
1. Canopy or Tall Tree Layer

Typically over 30 feet (~9 meters) high. This layer is for larger Forest Gardens. Timber trees, large nut trees and nitrogen-fixing trees are the typical trees in this category. There are a number of larger fruiting trees that can be used here as well depending on the species, varieties and rootstocks used.

2. Sub-Canopy/Large Shrub Layer

Typically 10-30 feet (3-9 meters) high. In most Forest Gardens, or at least those with limited space, these plants often make up the acting Canopy layer. The majority of fruit trees fall into this layer.

3. Shrub Layer

Typically up to 10 feet (3 meters) high. The majority of fruiting bushes fall into this layer. Includes many nut, flowering, medicinal and other beneficial plants as well.

4. Herbaceous Layer

Plants in this layer die back to the ground every winter… if winters are cold enough, that is. They do not produce woody stems as the Shrub layer does. Many culinary and medicinal herbs are in this layer. A large variety of other beneficial plants fall into this layer.

5. Groundcover/Creeper Layer

There is some overlap with the Herbaceous layer and the Groundcover layer; however plants in this layer are often shade tolerant, grow much closer to the ground, grow densely to fill bare patches of soil, and often can tolerate some foot traffic.

6. Underground Layer

These are root crops. There are an amazing variety of edible roots that most people have never heard of. Many of these plants can be utilized in the Herbaceous Layer, the Vining/Climbing Layer, and the Groundcover/Creeper Layer.

7. Vertical/Climber Layer

These vining and climbing plants span multiple layers depending on how they are trained or what they climb all on their own. They are a great way to add more productivity to a small space, but be warned. Trying to pick grapes that have climbed up a 60 foot Walnut Tree can be interesting to say the least.

8. Aquatic/Wetland Layer

This is my first new layer to the Forest Garden. Some will say that a forest doesn’t grow in the water, so this layer is inappropriate for the Forest Garden. I disagree. Many forests have streams flowing through or ponds in the center. There are a whole host of plants that thrive in wetlands or at the water’s edge. There are many plants that grow only in water. To ignore this large list of plants is to leave out many useful species that provide food, fibre, medicinal, animal feed, wildlife food and habitat, compost, biomass, and maybe most important, water filtration through bioremediation (or phytoremediation). We are intentionally designing Forest Gardens which incorporate water features, and it is time we add the Aquatic/Wetland Layer to the lexicon.

9. Mycelial/Fungal Layer

This is my second new layer to the Forest Garden. Fungal networks live in healthy soils. They will live on, and even within, the roots of plants in the Forest Garden. This underground fungal network transports nutrients and moisture from one area of the forest to another depending on the needs of the plants. It is an amazing system which we are only just beginning to comprehend. As more and more research is being conducted on how mycelium help build and maintain forests, it is shocking that this layer has not yet been added to the list. In addition to the vital work this layer contributes to developing and maintaining the forest, it will even provide mushrooms from time to time that we can utilize for food and medicine. If we are more proactive, we can cultivate this layer intentionally and dramatically increase our harvest.

Seattle built a food forest; you can see more about that here.

To learn more go to Temperate Climate Permaculture.

Article by Andrew Martin editor of onenesspublishing  and author of  One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

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Parents Working From Home During Quarantine Face Major Psychological Challenges

Many parents have been instructed to work from home while parenting full time.

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Parents Working From Home During Quarantine Face Major Psychological Challenges
Photo Credit: Conversation

(CONVERSATION) — Many working parents have been instructed to work from home.

Because of this forced or volunteer social distancing, many parents are now dealing with the new normal of having to work while parenting full time. Keep in mind, those who work remotely tend to be wealthier with bigger spaces. This quarantine can be extra challenging for multi-generational families, families living in close quarters and multi-family homes.

Others on the front line, including health-care workers, first responders, pharmacists, fire fighters, cashiers and store clerks, cleaners, truck drivers, etc. are unable to stay home with their kids. They are frantically searching for safe child-care options. And this is only the beginning of their struggles.

During last Sunday’s address to the country, it became evident to some listeners that even Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently experienced similar challenges of balancing work with full-time parenting obligations. His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 and went into isolation. With three young children and no child care or other domestic support, Trudeau got a glimpse into the challenges many parents are encountering daily.

Mental Health Consequences

During this outbreak, parents are suffering. They are dealing with one of the most consequential impacts on the psychological health of the modern-day workforce: work-family conflict. This conflict has to do with the competing demands of paid work and family obligations. Additional workplace closures and social distancing practices will make it even harder for working parents over the next few months.

Parents will endure more than what might be psychologically manageable given their levels of work-family conflict during this crisis. These scenarios will likely be greatest amongst front-line workers. It is important to recognize the long term effects of these experiences: This type of chronic stress does not manifest itself immediately.

Instead, parents will eventually reach a breaking point. Think of their stress from an engineering standpoint. When a bridge collapses, it isn’t one vehicle that causes the collapse; it’s the constant strain endured by the bridge’s suspension that eventually leads to its downfall. A similar analogy can be used here.

Safe, Affordable Child Care for All Families

COVID-19 is uncovering an underlying problem regarding parents’ access to family-friendly community resources, including child care, education services and recreational facilities. Most susceptible are parents with young children who rely on the available resources of their local community to help with day-to-day child care and social support.

A recent study that I led highlights these issues. Parental health and well-being depends on resources from both the workplace, community and its supportive resources. The most important of these is safe affordable child care.

Even before the current coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent social isolation, the lack of access to such resources has been an ongoing challenge for parents, forcing them to make choices around child care they otherwise would not likely make.

The problem extends to every corner of the country: 44% of children in Canada live in child care deserts, neighbourhoods where there are more than 50 non-school aged children and less than one space for every three children of the same age. These statistics are disturbing and reveal the number of parents struggling to find sufficient child care. There are serious mental health consequences for those in under-resourced areas.

Government Response

Canadian provincial and federal governments have been quick to respond to the child-care demand of front-line workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Several Canadian provinces have provided emergency child-care centres for those in need, limiting numbers and taking special precautions to adhere to social distancing protocols.

Trudeau’s government has also committed $2 million to supplement the Canadian Child Benefit for qualifying parents. The former efforts are formidable in their immediate impact. The latter’s, questionable. Federal funds can help replace lost wages and allow parents not to work while caring for their children during this time, but money cannot help parents hire caregivers while working from home, given social distancing and isolation measures.

Moving forward, we need to recognize the importance of community resources for parents in a post-COVID-19 world. At the provincial level, most funding cuts have targeted family and community facilitiesas well as safe affordable child care options.

The provision of these resources might reduce work-family conflict — and therefore a prolific mental health risk — in the general population. We know that seven out of 10 parents experience this stressor daily. These numbers are likely growing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

These times are arduous for working parents and we need to make sure we take care of them in the long run as well as other vulnerable populations. The benefits of which we will observe in generations to come.

The Conversation / Creative Commons

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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Hospitals Are Firing Doctors Who Talk To The Press About Lack Of Protective Gear

Emergency room doctors and nurses are getting sick. Some have even died.

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Photo Credit: Zero Hedge

(ZH) — U.S. health-care systems have warned emergency room doctors and nurses that if they speak out about working conditions inside a hospital, they will be fired, according to Bloomberg.

Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington State, lost his job last week after he spoke to a local media outlet about the lack of protective gear for staff at Puget Sound area hospitals.

Hospital staff at the NYU Langone Health system were recently warned that if they spoke to the media without authorization, they would be terminated.

“Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,” said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. “It is outrageous.”

With confirmed virus cases over 163,000 and 3,170 deaths, hospital systems across the country are seeing a massive influx of patients that is straining the system.

Doctors and nurses “must have the ability to tell the public what is really going on inside the facilities where they are caring for COVID-19 patients,” Schubert said.

As we noted in January, a hospital doctor in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of COVID-19, tried to inform the world about a fast-spreading disease. However, he was quickly silenced by the Chinese government, and since, more than 800,000 people around the globe have been infected, with 39,000 deaths.

One reason that nurses and doctors must be informative about evolving conditions inside hospitals is that public donations of medical equipment or gear could help out a local facility.

“It is good and appropriate for health-care workers to be able to express their own fears and concerns, especially when expressing that might get them better protection,” said Glenn Cohen, faculty director of Harvard Law School’s bioethics center. Hospitals are likely trying to limit reputational damage because “when health-care workers say they are not being protected, the public gets very upset at the hospital system.”

NYU Langone Health employees received notification last week that if they spoke with media, they would be “subject to disciplinary action, including termination.”

New York’s Montefiore Health System requires doctors and nurses to get permission from superiors before speaking to the media.

“Associates are not authorized to interact with reporters or speak on behalf of the institution in any capacity, without pre-approval,” according to the policy, which was seen by Bloomberg News.

Lauri Mazurkiewicz, a Chicago nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was fired after she told the hospital staff to wear more protective equipment:

“A lot of hospitals are lying to their workers and saying that simple masks are sufficient and nurses are getting sick and they are dying,” Mazurkiewicz said.

Doctors and nurses have also tweeted their frustrations with hospital systems – this has also led to some systems tightening the noose on what employees can and cannot say on social media:

Nisha Mehta, a radiologist from Charlotte, North Carolina, runs several Facebook groups for physicians. She says members in her groups have reached out to her and want their stories told about working conditions:

“I’m hearing widespread stories from physicians across the country and they are all saying: ‘We have these stories that we think are important to get out, but we are being told by our hospital systems that we are not allowed to speak to the press, and if we do so there will be extreme consequences,” Mehta said.

America’s hospital system could be cracking, like what happened in China and Italy. If everything were fine, doctors and nurses wouldn’t be flooding media outlets and social media platforms, warning the public about hospital conditions and or about how deadly the virus is.

By Tyler Durden | | Republished with permission

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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The World Is Running Out Of Condoms As Factories Face Coronavirus Lockdown

“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary.”

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Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

We’ve all seen the jokes on social media about how nine months from now a new generation will be born that will eventually be dubbed “Coronials”—and once they come of age, “quaranteens.

After all, if we’re stuck working from home or self-isolating along with our partner or significant other, it’s only natural and healthy for us to seek solace through sexual activity—and the increase in baby-making activities can naturally result in a miniature “baby boom.”

But as it turns out, the joke may have some basis after all—especially because a global shortage of condoms could deprive couples staying at home from one of the more popular birth control methods.

Reuters reports that Malaysia’s Karex Bhd, a company that is responsible for producing one out of every five condoms globally, spent over a week without producing a single condom at its three factories after the government imposed a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

This has resulted in a shortfall of 100 million condoms which normally would be marketed worldwide under such brands as Durex, distributed through aid programs like the United Nations Population Fund, and the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).

On Friday, the company was granted permission to resume production under a special exemption for critical industries but with only half of its workforce.

Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat said:

“It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity.

We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary.

My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”

The news comes as condoms rank among toilet paper and hand sanitizer as one of the most sought-after items during the CoViD-19 crisis, reports Highsnobiety.

Earlier this month, sex product retailer Promescent’s CEO Jeff Abraham confirmed that the company saw surging condom sales all month.

Speaking to Business Wire, the executive said:

“In fact, we’ve seen a 54%  increase in our online sales since the beginning of the pandemic.

With the tremendous effort put forth by so many government and local organizations, we want to do our part to ensure people are continuing to practice safe sex and have adequate access to birth control in a time of social distancing and self-isolation.”

Condom factories in China, India, and Thailand have also faced disruptions in their operations. Similar problems have also been faced by regional manufacturers of critical protective gear like medical gloves in Malaysia.

A Durex spokesman reassured Reuters that operations would continue as normal, and no supply shortages are anticipated. They added:

“For our consumers, many of whom will be unable to access shops, our Durex online stores remain open for business.”

Goh added that while condom production may face interruptions, the demand for the contraceptive remains stronger than ever. He said:

“The good thing is that the demand for condoms is still very strong because like it or not, it’s still an essential to have.

Given that at this point in time people are probably not planning to have children. It’s not the time, with so much uncertainty.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |

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Person Filmed Sneaking Down Street Dressed As A Bush During Quarantine

People are doing some very strange things to keep themselves occupied during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Photo Credit: Getty

John Vibes, The Mind Unleashed

In the United States and Europe, the CoViD-19 lockdowns have been tightening up, with new curfews and stay at home orders in many different areas. However, not everyone wants to stay inside, and some people have been going to great lengths to avoid quarantine restrictions.

In one neighbourhood in the United Kingdom, residents noticed one of their neighbours making their way down the road disguised as a bush. His stealth mission was recorded by neighbours Nicholas Murray and Madeline Mai-Davies, who filmed the strange occurrence and posted the video to TikTok.

The pair posted two different videos to the app and together quickly gained millions of views across several social media platforms.

The videos showed the neighbour covered from head to toe in fake leaves, carefully moving down the street, ducking behind trash cans, and then stopping to take the form of a bush while in open grass. In one of the videos, the person can be seen moving stealthily down the street and rolling and somersaulting across the road as if he were in an action movie.

However, it appears that the neighbour was just pulling a prank and not actually sneaking out of the house for any clandestine reason, because he later returned with a grocery bag, and grocery shopping is still allowed under the current restrictions.

“Got his shopping. Turning up to the party while on lockdown,” Murray wrote in a later post.

Murray later told Caters News Agency“Looking back, I didn’t expect the video to go that viral and get 16.5 million views. Whilst in this difficult time we want to bring smiles, laughs and hope.”

Mai-Davies added, “I was overwhelmed with the support and following that came from it.”

There have been over 22,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK, and the country has seen over 1,400 deaths from the illness since the outbreak began.

By John Vibes | Creative Commons |

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