Imagine it's the end of the world as we know it. SHTF (The S&*t's done hit the fan), everything you have come to know about the world we live in has been turned upside down. You always knew things were going to get bad... Hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. Well now it's the worst! The shelves at the local grocery store are empty, and eerily quiet. The pumps at the local convenience mart are no longer working. You've seen your neighbors do things you thought they weren't capable of, just trying to keep their children fed. Hell, you've done things you aren't proud of yourself trying to protect the well being of your own family.
You tried to be prepared... Before all this happened, but you couldn't have imagined just how hard it would be. Every day from the time the Sun peeks it's golden crescent over the Eastern Horizon till the moment you can no longer see what you are doing at night, you toil and work just trying to survive. You wake up each morning almost dreading the day ahead, seven days a week your muscles ache. Even when you are sick and not feeling well, you must get up and do it again, and again, day after day. You spend your time stumbling through an effort to grow food for your family, caring for your animals, milking, collecting eggs, cutting chopping and hauling firewood to stay warm, trudging through the woods in search of over hunted deer to shoot. It seems like the list gets longer each day, smoking meat, making soap, mending fence, fixing the roof.
Day in and day out.... Sun up, Sun down, on and on, and on into the future. You almost wish the Grim Reaper will come for you, and end your suffering.
Where I live here in Iowa, there's a very interesting view from the picture window in my living room. It's a commanding view of a "Yin and Yang" situation. You see there's a farm right across the street from me. Right now it waves gently in the breeze, with acre after acre of corn ripening in the Sun. Each year the Farmer can be seen perched high atop that big green John Deere Tractor, tilling, fertilizing, planting. It's a miracle of modern conventional farming. For me, this unfolding melodrama has come to epitomize everything that's gone wrong in our world. Giant Corporations, manipulation, corrupting, shaping our political landscape in order to make a buck. Everything from the GMO seeds that the Farmer plants, to the diesel fuel in his tractor, reflects a world gone crazy. I see topsoil blowing away in the wind, and along with it our future survival. I also have a view from that window of something else. Something almost magical to me. Right across the fence from those neatly plowed rows of corn and cancerous soybeans, is an area of native forest. It's one of the reasons we moved here in the first place. It wraps around the back of that farm field, and connects to a thousand acres of State game preserve... A thousand acres of firewood for the taking in that future SHTF world. I've done some hiking in those woods. I've marveled at how dense they are. Teeming with wildlife, every plant, animal, fungus, and insect living in Mother Nature's harmony. No one plows it, no one fertilizes it, no tractors are needed.... It just grows, putting that corn field to shame in it's abundance.
Everywhere mankind has gone, we have asserted our "Mastery" over Nature. We burn the forests, and plow them up, bending Nature to our will. In the process we create destruction in our wake. The Great Dust Bowl of the 1930's is a great example of this. We tried to bend Nature to our will, and in the process created over fifteen million acres of dust. Even the Bible tells us the tale of our hubris. Exodus talks of the Jewish People finding "The Land of Milk and Honey". How could the Bible refer to such abundance, while if you visit the Middle East today all that you find is sand, and desert? We Humans did that. Overgrazing, the Plow, and our mis-management destroyed the land. We're just now learning how ingenious Native Americans were at "Cultivating" Mother Nature's abundance. These "Heathens" had thousands of miles of trails carved through the wilderness, and along every path they had nurtured food and medicinal plants to provide a Garden of Eden for themselves. They observed how Nature worked and simply copied it's interactions to provide for themselves.
I recently ran across a posting here on the Internet, where someone had posted pictures of how He had constructed a bunch of Grape Trellises. Being the outspoken person that I am, I commented on the posting... "Why not just let those grapes climb up a fruit tree, like Nature had designed them to do?" WOW... OMFG.You would have thought I had suggesting painting your Butt purple with pink polka dots, and wearing a thong to the Mall!!!! I was quickly reminded by a number of "Experts" that a grape vine is capable of tearing limbs off of the mightiest oak. That they would kill a tree in time. These were so called "Preppers" by the way. People who are supposed to be thinking outside the box when it comes to the future.
About a year ago I began to discover that there are people doing serious work, rediscovering what the Native Americans knew. They were observing the Forest, like the one near my home, and studying it's ways. Figuring out how to use Nature's wisdom to provide for their families in a crisis. They had invented something called a "Food Forest Garden". Using the layers and interactions they found in a natural forest, they were mimicking the abundant growth in the forest to create a massively productive food growing system with at least seven layers of plants growing in relative harmony to make food and medicine. It didn't LOOK like a garden (A good thing when considering Zombie Hoards coming to take your food)... It flew in the face of everything I ever knew about gardening. Once planted, it was supposed to be left alone to do it's own thing, like a natural forest. You didn't till the ground, fertilize, plant, or tend to it. You just harvested. How could this be? The process of running a tiller, making straight rows, thinning, weeding (Oh how I hate weeding) were extensions of the word garden right? I had to let go of my predispositions. I had to understand that it didn't matter if a grape vine breaks a limb off of a tree. That's just free firewood. I had to realize that grapes were designed to climb a tree in the forest. I learned that there are wild grapes that do just that... Yet as a whole the forest keeps thriving. That there were hundreds of perennial veggies, with names like "Sea Kale" and "Mashua" that could grow, and produce year after year in these systems. Without adding to my post SHTF drudgery! WOW! Imagine planting a garden now, and once the world collapses not having to do anything to it for the rest of your life, but pick your food. A carefully designed ecosystem of it's own. Trees growing, propagating new baby trees, (And yes dying). Plants growing food for my family without my interference. And not a grape trellis in sight!
Some resources for further studying "Food Forest Gardens";