Peeing on the Food Forest

Gaia Ecovillage
Gaia Ecovillage

Remember in the last article when you learned about the struggles of gardening? How you have to make sure your plants have just the right amount of water; you have to pull weeds; and you have to protect these poor seemingly defenseless plants from the elements – things like excessive rain, hail, and insects.

You learned that Alley Cropping was a way to not only make your gardening efforts easier – but also a way to make money with cash crops.

Alley Cropping at Gaia Ecovillage
Alley Cropping at Gaia Ecovillage

Sounds good, right?


What if you could have a garden that required even less maintenance?

And you could still grow your cash crops?

Too good to be true?

Not at all…

So what’s the solution – that makes gardening so much easier?

A Food Forest is the answer.

That’s right… A food forest is a way to grow the plants that you want (including those that can earn you money) without the headache of pulling weeds and protecting them from the elements.

Gaia Ecovillage Food Forest
Gaia Ecovillage Food Forest

What’s a Food Forest?

Good question. I thought you’d ask.

(Keep in mind that I’m new to all this stuff so you’re getting a beginner’s perspective. So, to help fill in some of the gaps, I’m doing some cursory research.)

Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.

There you have it. It turns out that perhaps it’s more commonly or broadly referred to as Forest Gardening.

My experience in the Food Forest at Gaia Ecovillage

The term Food Forest that we used at Gaia was more specific to what we were doing there. That is, Gaia had more or less allowed the natural tropical environment grow over the years while planting and/or seeding fruit trees.

Food Forest? At Gaia Ecovillage
Food Forest? At Gaia Ecovillage

What kinds of plants and fruits are in a Food Forest?

It seems like a Forest Garden could be anything that is amenable to the conditions and will grow in the natural habitat.

At Gaia, we had various fruits including: Pineapple, Banana, and Berries.

Pineapple in the Gaia Food Forest
Pineapple in the Gaia Food Forest

We were encouraged to pee on/in the food forest.

This may sound disgusting to you but… We were told that the fruit trees like nitrogen and a good source is in our urine.

But we didn’t stop there.

You see, whereas the men were encouraged to pee in the forest, the women at Gaia had a separate toilet just for urine.

Mulberries in the Gaia Food Forest
Mulberries in the Gaia Food Forest

Watering the Food Forest with Pee

Once a week or so we would take the collected urine, dilute it in water and put it on the plants in the food forest.

Sounds like fun, right?

I bet now you’re thinking that a food forest is an even better idea – because now you have comfort in knowing that, instead of your pee being expensively processed through your city’s waste system…

But, better yet, your urine is going to good use growing fruit that you’ll eat and sell!

Sunset from Gaia Ecovillage
Sunset from Gaia Ecovillage

That’s all for this fun story. In the next article you’ll learn about the killer mosquitos at Gaia…

Wandering through the Forest at Gaia Ecovillage
Wandering through the Forest at Gaia Ecovillage

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About the Author Jason Ryer

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