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Growing Community Food Forests

In this year’s Soil Not Oil conference held on the 6-7th of August, a global audience met virtually once again to share and learn about the need for regenerative agricultural practices for healthy food. The theme of the conference could not have been more timely, “Our Food, Our Medicine”.

This year was particularly special because the Abundant Earth Foundation (AEF) participated in a panel session to discuss ‘Growing Community Food Forests’. Hannah Apricot, an AEF co-founder, moderated the panel which featured the following organizations: Refarmers, Mothers of the Amazon, and the 7 days Syntropic Agroforestry. From these organizations, we had a panel of six as follows.

The first presenter, Marie-Pierre, is based in Canada. She represented Refarmers and spoke about community farms. She believes indigenous knowledge and growing practices have a crucial role in ensuring community resilience.

Patrick Paul Kidega from Uganda, also representing Refarmers, mentioned that the ‘Soil Not Oil’ conference was a good reminder of what our priorities should be, soil and not oil. Through regenerative farming, he reckons there is hope for us to restore both nature and ourselves.

Our third speaker, Bane Saleh, is the founder of Mothers of the Amazon. She joined us from Los Angeles, to share her experiences working in Brazil. Her passion, working with indigenous communities and advocating for the protection of the Amazon, is evident in her work as she discusses how the health of the communities is connected to the health of the Amazon, which also happens to be called the “Lungs of the Earth”

We were also very honored to have Yube Huni Kuin join us. He wears many hats, but on this occasion, he came as a representative of the Huni Kuin- Earth and forest keepers. As an agroforestry specialist, he talks about the need for farmland reclamation, in order to restore it to the Amazon.

Another presenter was Roland van Reenen, who joined us from Kenya, where he is administering a syntropic agroforestry course. He is convinced, as you’ll discover through his talk, that we can regenerate the Earth, our soils, and our health through this upward spiral approach. Through this discipline, he has seen ecosystem balance restored, which has made teaching this practice his sole mission in life.

Last but not least, Michelle Gilman representing the Abundant Earth Foundation, tied the discussion back to health and nutrition. Her passion for ‘food as medicine’ led to her work in Nicaragua. The mission to regenerate the Central American Dry Corridor led to her working closely with farmers and sparked her passion for permaculture.

Altogether, the panel discussion on community, healthy soils, and healthy food, continues to show the undeniable relationship between the health of our Mother Earth, and our own health. 

Article graphic designed by: Cevahir Ozruh

Author Bios:

Stella Nyambura Mbau is a Doctor of Philosophy in Technology from Kenya. She has a keen interest in climate adaptation. Stella finds coordinating Abundant Earth Foundation projects that primarily lean into nature-based solutions for ecosystem regeneration very fulfilling.

Michelle Gilman is from (and is currently based in) MA, the USA, and has also studied and worked in Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the UK. She recently joined the AEF team as an Environmental Nutritionist and is developing a nutrition promotion framework and curricula to ensure a holistic approach to sustainable food systems.

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