Owner system

Why trees and forests can be the key to a stronger food system

Agroforestry practices not only lead to healthy humans, but also to a healthy environment. Deforestation leads to an increase in greenhouse gases, which has a negative impact on climate resilience. Commercial agriculture, with its heavy diesel-powered equipment and reliance on chemical treatments to grow food and keep it pest-free, is a greenhouse gas offender (per Research Outreach).

The Climate Institute highlights the myriad environmental benefits of agroforestation. Agroforestry soil captures more organic carbon than even traditional forests, meaning less carbon escapes into the atmosphere while enriching the land. Additionally, fallow soil on farmland can be rebuilt through reforestation practices. Dead organic matter from trees and other forest plants is recycled back into the soil, forming natural compost that enriches it. Tree roots sink deeper into the ground when competing with crops, which improves rainwater capture and relieves depleted water sources.

While one of the drawbacks of agroforestry is time — forests take time to mature — there is growing interest in the for-profit sector. Mongabay reports that researcher Ernst Götsch believes agroforestry practices will see their profit increase eight times over conventional practices. Forest Finance founder Harry Assenmacher, who invests in agroforestry farms, expects a four to seven percent return on his investments (via Revolve). These for-profit catalysts are fueling an interest in sustainable farming practices.