We can make the world a more fruitful place. Tree crops – fruit and nut trees – only need to be planted once, and they yield bountiful crops year after year for decades, even centuries.
By planting a variety of fruit trees around us, it’s possible to enable diverse local production of delicious, health-enhancing feed. In warmer climates, this production can go on year round, with each season marked by different fruits and nuts ripening. Underutilized varieties of many fruit species offer spectacular tastes beyond what’s available in grocery stores, especially when tree-ripened. Also, many fruits are loaded with cancer-preventing antioxidant compounds – eating more of them will enhance our health and reduce our healthcare costs, while improving our quality of life.
One of the biggest potential ways to create this abundance is through edible landscaping. The existing ‘humanscape’ is mostly full of trees and shrubs that produce no food. We can change that, on an individual level right now in our own yards, and eventually on a societal level, with streets lined with food-producing trees, and public landscaping full of fruit and nut-bearing trees and shrubs.
Over time, we can also make fruit and nut production a much larger portion of our agriculture. Not only will this give us a greater abundance and diversity of food, switching farmland from annually plowed fields to permanent plantings of fruit and nut trees can pull significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, helping with the climate crisis.
Many fruit and nut crops are “shovel ready”, and we can plant them on a large scale right now. Many more are extremely promising, but need some selection and breeding work before they’re ready for prime time. With many of these crops, individuals can make significant progress in locating and multiplying varieties. But to really make large-scale progress, a network of agricultural experiment stations working systematically to evaluate, select, and breed improved varieties, is an investment that will pay handsome returns to any society far sighted enough to invest in it.
That’s long term. But for right now, the ball is in our court as individuals, and there’s a huge amount we can do. Anyone can keep their eyes open for promising local fruit and nut trees. Multiplying those promising trees by seeds, cuttings, and air layers is simple to do with only a little training. Grafting is slightly more advanced, but simple enough that older children learn it easily. Networks of people keeping their eyes out for the best quality varieties, multiplying them, planting them out, trading plant material, and working with nurseries, can make huge progress in creating fruitful abundance around us. Many of these networks of fruit and nut enthusiasts already exist, ready for interested people to plug into.
I intend this website to be a resource for people to learn about the abundance and diversity of promising fruit and nut trees. I want to democratize the tool kit of skills needed: plant-propagation skills, understanding botanical terms, and appreciating just how much good material is out there, just waiting for us to work with it. And since crops aren’t much good if people don’t know how to use them, I try to include basic recipes and processing techniques, like drying, wherever possible. Since I am in Florida, USA, my focus is largely on food plants for warm-climate areas, but the general principles are applicable anywhere.
I invite you to dive in. Poke around on this site, follow Florida Fruit Geek on social media and especially by RSS, and I hope you get inspired to eat and plant more fruit!