A study by Ina Vandebroek and 2014 Fellow Logan Sander was recently featured in a National Geographic story titled, “On Tiny Island Farms, Biodiversity is a Way of Life” by Kelsey Nowakowski. This represents a continuation of the research that Logan began with his TRI Fellowship examining agroforestry practices in Jamaica. From the article:
A recent study in the journal Economic Botany found that the region’s farmers grow an average of 87 useful plant varieties, including a high number of foods, for one plot of land. Yam, plantain, banana, mango, pepper, bean, coconut, breadfruit, timber, and medicinal plants all grow surrounded by wild trees and shrubs that help hold nutrient-rich soil in place on the mountains’ steep slopes. (The research was funded in part by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration.) Growing a variety of plants like the Jamaican farmers do contributes to food security by maintaining agricultural biological diversity—known as agrobiodiversity for short. Protecting that diversity is becoming more difficult, though, since most of the world’s cultivated land is dedicated to growing the handful of staples we eat.