Throughout the tropical world, especially in South and Southeast Asia, tropical America, Africa and Oceania, there exists a range of forest garden farming systems. These are small, low-input, but productive and sustainable family units of highly diversified trees, palms, bushes and vines, with few conventional field crops or livestock. Providing a survey of these systems around the world and an in-depth analysis of the farms around Kandy, Sri Lanka, this book offers an economic and ecological description and evaluation of this ancient agroforestry system and its relationship to a wide range of global agro-development and environmental problems. Guided by a table that lists some 30 socio-economic and social criteria by which all farming systems can and should be evaluated, the book presents persuasive evidence supported by comprehensive references. It also examines historical and archaeological findings in order to assess the role these tropical forests played in the general adoption of agricultural farming.
’While at times controversial, this fascinating yet professionally-produced book should be of interest to anthropologists, agriculturalists, ecologists, economists, conservationists and others concerned with, or concerned about, the use of natural resources to produce food and fibre.’ Dr R.G. Dumsday, La Trobe University, Australia ’This book reveals much on one of the most important, yet least understood, agricultural systems in existence around the world today; forest garden farms. As McConnell found, forest garden farms are a viable agro-economic system, still in use today. Once all agriculture must have been organized in a forest gardens system, where most of a households needs come from a small area of highly diverse trees and vines, along with some ground crops and intensive livestock production. Yet, knowing where modern agriculture came from and how it is still practiced is not the only use this interesting book can be put to. The real beauty of this book lies in an understanding of how the world might ecologically and holistically work. It is rare to find a more comprehensive story than this one. This book is not only useful for those interested in subsistence or alternative agricultural systems, it is also of interest that anyone wanting to know where modern agriculture came from, where problems now exist and what modern agricultural systems may evolve into. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a complete picture of the environment in which agriculture operates.’ Brian Davidson, University of Melbourne, Australia. ’This book should be published and encouraged as compulsory reading for the hardy band of policy makers, businesses and citizens who operate on the razor’s edge of reconciling economic development with environmental protection. By now the negative impacts of economic development on the natural world are voluminously documented. It is a pleasure to have a book that presents some positive solutions.’ Tom Barton, Minist