Growing an oasis in the desert and bananas in Massachusetts

manmade oasis photo
Video screen capture Frank Gapinski

Geoff Lawton has already shown us how to green the desert, taking much of his inspiration from 2000-year-old food forests designed to ensure food security for nomadic tribes.

Now he appears to have done it again, creating an organic, productive oasis in Wadi Rum, Jordan—the location where Lawrence of Arabia was originally filmed. Using natural design features like swales, ground cover and a date palm overstorey, the whole focus is on absorbing water and organic matter into the ground, kickstarting the process of soil building. You'll need to sign up with your email to access the full video, but it's well worth it.

As if greening the desert was not enough, Lawton has also been exploring how to grow abundance in cold climates too—visiting Eric Toensmeier's and Jonathan Bates' perennial food forest which grows everything from sorghum through bananas to kiwi in Holyoke, Massachusetts. (Check out Bate's and Toensmeier's book for more on this incredible garden.)

Again, you'll need to provide an email address for the full video, but I highly recommend it.

Growing an oasis in the desert and bananas in Massachusetts
"If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere," says Geoff Lawton. So let's get started.

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