On ten acres near Washington, D.C., Lincoln Smith grows food – but he does not plant in large tilled fields or tidy garden rows. He farms in the forest.

Smith: “There is plenty of nutrition that can be derived from a more diverse forest-based agricultural system.”

In his forest garden, Smith grows trees that produce edible nuts and fruits, such as persimmons, mulberries, and paw-paws. The trees grow alongside mushrooms, greens, and perennial berries.

Smith: “… black raspberries, blueberries, currants … you name it.”

Smith also designs forest gardens for others – even in urban and suburban areas. He says planting small forest gardens not only provides more locally-grown food, it increases the tree canopy.

Smith: “So we’re providing better wildlife habitat. We’re of course sequestering carbon in the trees themselves and in the soil organic matter that is accumulating year-over-year as you grow the forest. And then with the healthy soil comes clean water, because the water that falls on that site is going to filter through that soil before it goes into the stream – in stark contrast to, of course, a parking lot or a tilled field.”

So with forest gardens, people can grow food and help protect the climate, all on the same patch of land.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.