Rob Read on Slow Small Solutions

After lunch, which was enjoyed under the cherry trees with friends in the shade, I sauntered over to listen to Rob talk about his half-acre edible forest garden.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rob and his lovely partner at a LoundonSOUP event in March this year. I had found out then he worked at the same university my partner did his PhD in philosophy and I thought it great there was someone with a 9-5 job was also interested in food security and forest gardening. I didn’t realise at the time Rob was co-founder of Artemisia’s Forest Garden Nursery.

During his talk he made reference to many great books on permaculture and forest gardening but what stood out the most for me was when he drew on anthropology and the diversity of foods found in hunter gatherer stomachs. I think he said 150 varieties of food, in one stomach, at the same time, and he set to work to cultivate 150 edible perennial on his half-acre lot.

He stressed the importance of slow, small solutions and how that had made the difference for him about whether to see grass as the enemy or simply part of the plant diversity.

I started thinking that on any given day I might eat up to 15 different foods. I might have 50 foods regularly in my diet. I tried to imagine how small handfuls nibbled through the day would be compared to the regimented 3 meals and a snack routine I am in. I also started to think about my own garden, the slow, small changes I have made over the past 3 years and the great results I’ve seen. I felt motivated to keep trying new plants in my garden, to intensely plant under my new paw paws.

There was great discussion about everyone’s experiences and I really enjoyed hearing what was working for people and what did not.