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Earth, Cities, People

Edited highlights.

"Think globally, act locally. It all starts in your own backyard. The purpose of planting the Forest Gardens was to do something about the state of the environment, to create a living example of what could be done. You start where you are."

The idea of forest gardening was brought to Britain by Robert Hart, who has been the inspiration to Naturewise. A tiny imitation of the natural forest, a forest garden achieves the utmost economy of space and labour and requires minimal maintenance. It is a sustainable edible landscape which can make a significant contribution to our diet throughout the growing season, from the first herbs and wild garlic in March to the last apples in November. The wide diversity of species that inhabit it ensures that any small invasion of pests never reaches epidemic proportions.

Food growing can also improve the quality and sustainability of urban life. 89% of us live in cities. At present, most cities are highly unsustainable; covering only 2% of the earth's surface, they nevertheless consume 75% of its resources.

Creating a sense of community has the potential to play a significant part in the regeneration of inner cities, and food growing projects, like Forest Gardens, are a very practical form of urban community development - a way of involving people in an activity which can make a visible difference to the quality of city life.

Naturewise has also recognised that through their projects, individuals, including professional people, unemployed people, single parents, students, self-employed people and council officers with differing approaches can work creatively together in a common task. The Forest Gardens have created nal and training opportunities for people and food for the local community to harvest.

"The experience of the natural world and its laws has alomost been abandoned for closed, artificial and meaningless lives, perhaps best typified by the dreams of those who would live in spaces satellites and abandon a dying earth" wrote Bill Mollison in 'Permaculture, A Designer's Manual.' "The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility of life."