We were extremely pleased to host Solomon Gamboa of Cincinnati-based Indigenous Landscapes on May 14 at Agraria, where he gave a wonderful presentation for Community Solutions staff and a few friends. Solomon is most invested in building an indigenous agriculture movement to help mitigate habitat loss and habitat fragmentation caused by traditional agriculture. He specializes in deeply comprehending vegetation-soil relationships, native prairie construction, pollinator gardens, reforestation and forest associations. At Agraria, he focused on edible indigenous plants, making our mouths water as he described all the amazing food that grows here already and could be cultivated, all while building soil and enhancing our habitat!
As Solomon sees it, almost all agricultural land right now is “ecological dead space,” with 74% of U.S. topsoil degraded, and erosion occurring at a rate 10 times faster than replenishment. In order to make lasting change, Solomon believes that our perception of what food-producing land looks like will have to alter. “We have to make the areas eco-inclusive to the whole food web,” he said, “so they can take advantage of co-evolution with insects. Ecosystem cooperation makes ecosystems work better together, insects balanced with plants.”
In southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana, oak and hickory trees provide essential support for a biodiverse ecosystem, and also produce nuts which can harvested for food. American Persimmon and wild plums are both comparable to potatoes in calorie density, with the persimmon actually supplying 25% more density. Paw paws supply more calories than any cultivated fruit. In all, Solomon mentioned at least 24 different species of native plants—everything from mulberries to stinging nettle—that can thrive in this area, help localize the food supply, and restore the ecosystem by building soil and nourishing indigenous fauna! He identified a number of these plants that are already growing on Agraria.
Community Solutions looks forward to seeing Solomon’s vision take shape. We will have a front-row seat because he has recently agreed to rent 2.5 acres of Agraria farmland in the fall. As his program begins to ramp up, check back for events involving Solomon’s food—indigenous food festivals are one of his goals, and we are hoping to host some of them right here.