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First Advisor

Nikitina, Svetlana




Adequate food supply is one of the greatest problems that humanity will face in the 21st century. Earth’s population is expected to hit 9.5 billion by 2050. To support this population with our current practices of industrial agriculture, another billion hectares of land would have to be deforested and transformed into farmland. We do not have this land at our disposal anymore. Modern industrial agriculture is not sustainable. Its methods degrade ecosystems, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, consume 70 percent of the world’s fresh water, and diminish biodiversity. An alternative to modern agriculture, however, does exist: forest farms. They revitalize ecosystems, are independent of artificial inputs, are more productive and biologically diverse, and also reverse greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration. The fundamental principle behind a forest garden is simple: apply the concepts and ecology of a forest to the landscape of a farm. Forests are self-renewing, input-free, biologically diverse, highly productive, and environmentally sustainable. The focus of our project was to explore these benefits and determine whether forest gardens are feasible in terms of economics, productivity, and sustainability. We would like to examine the feasibility of forest gardens in developing countries and their potential contribution to the reduction of poverty and hunger. To understand the true potential of forest gardens, we approached them both as a research topic and as a current agricultural practice that is taking place as close to us as Leverett, MA. We made a field visit to a local forest farm which helped us grasp the complexity and benefits of a forest garden. From our research and field visits, we have determined that forest gardens can significantly mitigate climate change, as well as contribute to the reduction of poverty and hunger across the globe.


The Grand Challenges Seminar




Worcester Polytechnic Institute


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The Grand Challenges Seminar


Great Problems Seminar



Forest Gardening: Redesigning Modern Agriculture



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