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Exploring the potential of edible forest gardens: experiences from a participatory action research project in Sweden

Authors
  • Björklund, Johanna1
  • Eksvärd, Karin2
  • Schaffer, Christina3
  • 1 Örebro University, School of Science and Technology, Örebro, Sweden , Örebro (Sweden)
  • 2 Inspire Action and Research AB, Knivsta, Sweden , Knivsta (Sweden)
  • 3 Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm, Sweden , Stockholm (Sweden)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Agroforestry Systems
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Feb 15, 2018
Volume
93
Issue
3
Pages
1107–1118
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10457-018-0208-8
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

To meet the environmental challenges that are presently confronting society, the narrow focus on agricultural production needs to be altered to one that places equal value on the generation of crucial ecosystem services. Current research shows that perennial intercropping systems such as agroforestry may be a feasible alternative. Based on studies during the establishment of edible forest gardens in 12 participating farms in Sweden, this paper explores the potential of utilizing multi-strata designs for food production in temperate, high-income countries. Design and species composition of such gardens, types of food they provide, and how they would best fit into the present landscape are discussed. Factors for success and major problems related to the establishment are shared. Potential benefits were found to be closely related to a thorough analysis of the social and ecological contexts before establishment. Characteristics of the site and goals of the garden need to guide species and design choices. If forest garden approaches to food production should contribute to more than local self-sufficiency, the gardens need to increase in scale. Marginal lands and transitions areas between different land uses may be appropriate. Large knowledge gaps concerning potential production, social and economic benefits, and agronomic issues were identified.

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