Exploring the potential of edible forest gardens: experiences from a participatory action research project in Sweden Agroforest Syst https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-018-0208-8
Johanna Björklund . Karin Eksvärd . Christina Schaffer
This research project explores the feasibility of growing a diversity of crops in a planned, forested area. The goals are lofty:
“The desired functions from the systems were agreed to be the provision of nutritious and tasty food products, nitrogen fixation, nutrient accumulation, the provision of quality food for pollinators, carbon sequestration, contribution to a benign microclimate and the provision of timber. The design and species composition were planned to optimize these functions”
This research reminds me of the permaculture gardens that have risen in popularity across the U.S. Whenever you have a multi-use approach to agriculture, there are a lot of tradeoffs especially in maximizing yield. Having layers of berry bushes growing beneath a nut tree, for instance, reduces light and could adversely impact yield and pollinator activity because the area becomes too shady. There is a desire for timber, but cut trees down and the entire moisture, light, etc. regimes of this ecosystem are changed. One of the plants included in this study was lambs quarter, Chenopodium album, an annual that would most definitely die out after a while because of shading and competition from trees as well as lack of disturbance of the soils. It certainly is a fun exercise and yields of any one crop will suffer, but in my back yard? Why not?
For anyone interested, here is a short article I wrote a few years ago about the history of strawberry breeding and cultivation in Alaska. Strawberry history
Strawberries have been a passion all over the world for hundreds of years. The story is no different in Alaska where strawberry mania traveled North with the Gold Rush. The attached link is an interesting history of the development of the strawberry with one of the world’s top producers, Driscoll as well as conflicts with public and private breeding interests. It evens mentions Alaska wild strawberries! Driscoll Strawberries conducted some research along with the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden into strawberry plant production in the 1990s. They were interested in learning if producing the plants at high latitudes would improve yields when the plants were transplanted in southern California and Mexico for fruit production. The results were not positive so they moved on to other ideas. It was interesting working with this private company and learning their research procedures that have since catapulted their patented strawberries into world fame. Anyone who buys strawberries at Safeway or Freddies certainly knows their name. It is also interesting to note that Alaska had the first strawberry breeding program at a U.S. University anywhere! It was begun by Charles Georgeson in the early 1900s. Others certainly have lasted longer, but Alaska was the first! We just can’t seem to get anyone in the State to fund ag research on any level. The Agricultural Experiment Station was THE research and development arm for Alaska farmers, and today it is a shadow of its former self.
The Driscoll Story
The Cornell Cooperative Extensions Berry Diagnostic Tool is an excellent resource for anyone growing or interested in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, and gooseberries. This online tool allows anyone to select a berry crop and then from a variety of descriptions of plant growth issues, deformities, discolorations, damage, or other indicator that occurs on the whole plant, flower, fruit, or vegetative to continue to diagnose the issue. Lots of photographs and links to in depth articles are included about many diagnoses to really get to the “root” of the issue. Finally, recommendations for management of the issue can be selected after referring to the images and descriptions
Citation: Cornell Cooperative Extension. 2016. Cornell Fruit Berry Diagnostic Tool. Available online: Diagnosis. Accessed: 12 October 201
Fruit Soup Recipe
2 cups dry red wine 1 cup water ; 2/3 cup sugar ; 2 whole star anise ; 2 cinnamon sticks; 1 (12-ounce) basket fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced; 1 (6-ounce) basket fresh raspberries; 1 (4.4-ounce) basket fresh blueberries; 1 pint vanilla bean gelato or ice cream
Directions: Combine the wine, water, sugar, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a heavy large saucepan. Add all but 1/2 cup of each of the berries. Bring the liquids to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the fruit is very tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Discard the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Transfer the berry mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, stirring occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day ahead. Cut the reserved strawberries into small pieces. Place a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato or ice cream in the center of 8 decorative dessert glasses or soup bowls. Divide the mixed berry soup among the glasses, being careful to pour around the gelato. Sprinkle the reserved berries over the soup and serve immediately. Thank you to Giada De Laurentiis for a delicious mixed berry soup with gelato recipe. Doing research on berry information is when I learned that people really do make soup from berries. You can heat it up and use it as a topping or throw some whipped cream on it for a cold topping. Sounds delicious! AK Fairbanks
Strawberry fun facts. The link above takes you to a fun fact about strawberries site that gives you instructions on how to pick strawberries and just fun facts about berries. One of my favorite facts that I read was, “Processing, such as cooking and freezing berries do not affect the phytochemical properties that they contain! This means that value-added products, such as our nectars, ciders, & jams etc… are still high in the healthy stuff!!!” (Fun Facts About Strawberries, Laura, Southern Grace Farms). Often times you find that a certain way of cooking foods can cause them to loose their nutritional value. For example, with vegtables, I don’t like to steam them because all the nutrients falls into the juice at the bottom of the pot. Another thing I thought was cool about the site was that it included how to say the word “strawberry” in a few different languages.AK Fairbanks
Online News Article and Radio/Web Broadcast: The Secret Life of California’s World-Class Strawberries
Charles, Dan. 2012. The Secret Life of California’s World-Class Strawberries. National Public Radio. Available online: Strawberries. Accessed: 7 October, 2016.
Comments: Here’s an article and associated radio/web broadcast about commercial strawberry production in California, from NPR’s “The Salt, what’s on your plate”. The authors briefly discuss a broad range of topics from genetics and cloning to Fusarium wilt to field trials with soilless growing media. Although the article is not overly scientific, it is interesting to get a snapshot of current drivers behind commercial production. High yields and disease resistance remain at the top of the list but market desire for organically produced fruit have forced growers to adapt newer methods.
Online Radio/Web Broadcast and Article: Bigger, Blander, Blegh: Why Are Strawberries Worse?
Block, Melissa. 2012. Bigger, Blander, Blegh: Why Are Strawberries Worse? National Public Radio. Available online: Strawberry flavor. Accessed: 7 October, 2016.
Comments: The broadcast explores the tendency of strawberries today to be big and not so flavorful, the answers aren’t too surprising. Marvin Pitts, of Cornell, also discusses how toselect the best strawberry at the store. CZ Anchorage