These days I listen to “The Survival Podcast “ almost every day – Jack has an in-depth knowledge of Permaculture and an “Fear not and Farm on” attitude towards end of the world scenarios that are usually so rampant in the Permaculture and Survivalist world. His explanation of Permaculture on his YouTube Channel is actually also an excellent “non hippie, non socialist” introduction to the world of permaculture, to people who think that permaculture is about hippies bathing in mud-baths and “sharing the surplus”.
Jack interviewed Mark Shepard from New Forest Farm. Mark is one of those Permaculture heroes, who show us that we can grow sustainable food and make a profit. He is showing farmers how to ditch the fertilisers and pesticides and at the same time become more resilient to pressure from big box supermarkets who continuously lower prizes to the point where many farmers are close to bankruptcy.
Well the story of todays blogpost is a result of something Mark said about planting apple seeds – which struck a coord with me: He said that if every child planted a seed from every apple they ate, we would soon have a 100 new varieties of eating apples (or something along those lines).
So I have started doing that – and since apples are kept on cold storage in the supermarkets, many seeds had already sprouted when I took them out of the apple (those who weren’t have been put in the fridge in water for a few days and sprouted shortly thereafter).
Since I eat at least an apple a day, and my daughter usually does the same, and one apple contains at least 4 seeds, this amounts to something very quickly. I will actually be running out of space to plant seeds in fast if I don’t think of something to do with it.
Now some will – and indeed some have – argued that you cannot plant fruit trees from seed. And I will argue back that mother nature has done that for millennia before man invented grafting, root stock propagation etc. I know that the apple that comes out of the seed will not be “true to type”, and that I will not get uniformity by doing so.
I know all that – but that is not the point of growing apples from seed. The point is biodiversity. I may not get a good eating apple – or maybe I will get one out of the hundreds of little trees that comes out of my daily apple-eating. First of: More biodiversity gives us more disease resistance, which means less need for fighting pests. We may not get a good eating apple, but instead we might get an apple that makes great cider, or an apple that make for good pig food (and porc chops finished on apples should be some of the best meat in the world).
If I can grow 8 apple trees pr day … or even just one – I can grow a hedge in my garden pretty fast, and even if it never gives me any apples that I like, they will bloom and give food for bees in the spring, and they will hold on to the soil, and hold ducks in and produce biomass. I will be able to feed a goat with the leaves and branches that I cut of and use the wood in my pizza-oven or a rocket mass stove, or for smoking fish, and if I have too much of it I can cut it into woodchips and use it for mulch. Or I can graft an apple onto the root, which I do like, and then the root stock will have been free of cost.
The point is that in Permaculture we don’t grow apple-trees for the fruit alone – function stacking is at the hart of Permaculture, and in that respect, and apple tree has many functions aside of producing apples.
And if I am lucky – in the course of a lifetime, I might grow an apple that I can name after myself “The Granny Hoff” apple or something kind of like it (and that is actually part of the story behind the famous Granny Smith Apple).