Food forests are the latest urban trend designed to combat global warming while offering free, fresh food to the food insecure. The concept is simple: provide an urban oasis of fruit and nut trees, fruit-bearing bushes, herbs, and other edibles which are free to harvest and eat to any and all visitors. In 2013, Seattle became the first municipality to offer its residents food forest, starting a new trend which promises to provide quality food to those who need it most, combating obesity among the poor in the process.
Planting food forests also make sense when it comes to global warming and the extreme weather that comes with it. Trees reduce CO2 emissions, offer habit to birds and other animals, and restore oxygen to our atmosphere.
Caring for the environment as much as I do, it only made sense then to include trees into my world building for the Peers of Beinan series and to make trees the ultimate solution to brown eye syndrome. In brown eye syndrome (so named because the iris of suffers turns brown), two of the five photo receptors in Beinarian eyes are destroyed by exposure to high concentrations of argene. Argene (thorium 232) is highly radioactive. But one tree on Beinan, the nara tree, reduces argene toxicity — when planted in large enough numbers.
This emulates the impact of trees on our own planet. A single tree by itself will not stop global warming. But dozens, hundreds, and thousands of trees altogether will. Replanting our forests and filling up abandoned urban spaces with food forests is critical to any effort to counter-act the effects of global warming.
On Beinan, nara trees offer not just the ability to neutralize argene toxicity. Nara trees are prolific fruiting trees that are at the core of Beinarian food forests, an aspect I added to them after researching food forests across the United States. Wood from nara trees is especially light and strong, making it perfect for building heritage sailing vessels like the “Nenel” in Ghosts of the Past. Its flexibility makes it ideal for heritage bows. Beinarians plant it in large numbers because in every way, nara trees benefit their society.
We can make our world better through trees too. Across public parks, botanical gardens, and yes, our own yards, we can plant fruit and nut bearing trees to nourish our bodies, clean the air, and make our world a nicer place to live.
As the commercial says, “a world without trees is not a world for me.”
Do your part. Support community gardens and food forests in your area. And of course, support the Arbor Day Foundation in replanting trees destroyed by fire, flood, and logging.