fruitful landscapes: the beginning of a meals forest, with michael judd


THE TERM “meals forest” from the permaculture world sounds massive—like if I steered you begin one, you’d in all probability say, “I don’t have room for a forest of any sort.”


However right now’s visitor bets that almost all of us who backyard have room for a minimum of slightly little bit of fruity deliciousness within the type of a tree or two, underplanted with some fastidiously chosen companions. Possibly the place a portion of the entrance garden is correct now, and perhaps emphasizing native fruiting species.

Maryland-based Michael Judd is a longtime champion of edible landscaping, the creator of assorted books, together with “For the Love of Pawpaws” (affiliate hyperlink), and hosts an annual pawpaw pageant every September. Currently he’s even the creator of a brand new app known as Fruit Patch that can assist you get began by yourself little meals forest. (Above, flowers of one among Michael’s favorites, the pawpaw; picture by Jonathan Palmer, KYSU Land Grant Program.)


Plus: Remark within the field close to the underside of the web page to enter to win a duplicate of “For the Love of Pawpaws.”

Learn alongside as you hearken to the Aug. 14, 2023 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant beneath. You possibly can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).

making room for fruiting vegetation, with michael judd



Margaret: Is harvest time happening down there?

Michael: Oh, sure. Harvested a bunch of American elderberries and seaside plums right now with my little woman, and we’re going to make some popsicle juice out of it.

Margaret: I do know, you take advantage of attention-grabbing recipes due to course elderberries, you don’t form of take them off the plant and shove them in your mouth at most factors of their ripeness. However yeah, you make syrups and juices and popsicles and every kind of nice stuff.

Michael: Yeah. One in every of our favorites is meals forest jam, which varies with the harvest season, however one of many bases of that’s type of black currant and black aronia, elderberry. After which we sweeten that up with some goumi or some seaside plums or Nanking bush cherries. And so there are all these totally different mixtures which might be beautiful. Very, very tasty.

Margaret: Not that you’ve got plenty of fruit or something over there [laughter].

Michael: Gotta do one thing with it.

Margaret: What number of pawpaw bushes?

Michael: Oh gosh, a minimum of 100.

Margaret: Uh-huh? And what number of persimmons, American persimmons? [Laughter.]

Michael: Oh, American persimmon. You’re hitting on my candy notes now. It’s in all probability the same variety of American persimmons. And when you’ve by no means had a choose American persimmon, it is likely one of the most beautiful fruits on the planet, it’s scrumptious. Not like lots of people’s expertise with a local American persimmon, which generally if eaten earlier than absolutely ripe will really feel very stringent and cheesy within the mouth. And even a few of these, even absolutely ripe, do this. However choose cultivars are completely scrumptious dessert like jelly with every kind of fragrant notes in it. Yeah, two of my favorites proper there, pawpaws and persimmons.

Margaret: You’re making me hungry. And so I discussed meals forest within the introduction, so what’s a meals forest after which what’s a fruit patch? Simply type of give us the concept of what that is on no matter scale.

Michael: So a meals forest [above, a young section of Michael’s] just isn’t rising meals in the forest. It’s rising meals like the forest. While you take a really wholesome ecosystem forest, you see lots happening. You see overstory bushes, mid-story, understory bushes. You see vines working up by means of all of it. You see herbaceous ground-level layers working, and it’s all working collectively. It’s all pumping and dealing symbiotically.

So after we take that commentary, we see that sample, and after we come to plant one thing on our panorama out within the open garden, you wish to plant a fruit tree, as a substitute of sticking that fruit tree type of on the market in the midst of the ocean of grass on the whims of weed whackers, what you’re doing is you’re creating a gaggle for it, what we name a guild in permaculture. Usually these are perennial companion vegetation that assist that primary fruit producer. So we’re not essentially going to stack that higher, mid-story and understory, however we’re going to take the idea of placing vegetation collectively to assist one another.

And in that case, we frequently will put in one thing that fixes nitrogen, one thing within the legume household, one thing just like the, was it the wild Baptisia, with stunning blue flowers, and there’s all these different advantages as nicely. However fixing nitrogen by means of the roots to the vegetation round it’s like planting your fertility in a single go.

You then’re additionally fascinated by, O.Ok., nicely, let’s attract useful bugs. So let’s put one thing like yarrow in there, which has this nice structure, nice habitat for every kind of useful bugs.

And then you definitely’re additionally going to need one thing that’s like a mulch plant, one thing I like to make use of, like comfrey, which can be medicinal. So multipurpose vegetation, but in addition issues that I can chop and drop for mulch or that may die on their very own and pulse that soil degree and feed that tree long-term. And then you definitely may need one thing like Echinacea, slightly fuel station for the pollinators to land on.

Margaret: Sure. Sure. Sure.

Michael: Yeah. And increase that pollination. So that you’re creating variety. A guild isn’t just the vegetation, it’s the life that it attracts as nicely. So it’s going to have an effect on ecology stability. And actually what you’re doing is taking your self off the hook for having to essentially take care of that tree since you’ve completed slightly little bit of design upfront by placing vegetation collectively, they assist serve one another’s wants, and that provides you extra time to do yoga, swing within the hammock, play along with your youngsters.

Margaret: Look ahead to the harvest [laughter].

Michael: Look ahead to the harvest, or go do extra of those. And I name these fruit patches. In fact, they may very well be a nut patch, it may very well be a bush fruit, however it’s a quite simple idea. So it takes that bigger thought of a meals forest, and brings it all the way down to one thing that may very well be eight, 10 ft in diameter solely. And you may fit-

Margaret: Like on the cover of the tree, so to talk, and beneath it like that, with that measurement?

Michael: Proper.

Margaret: Not of the entire yard. It doesn’t need to be the entire yard. It may very well be this one space.

Michael: Proper. After which when you did have extra space, and also you wished to have much less garden, you may begin spacing these patches out 12, 15, 20 ft aside and have your different fruit bushes in these areas. After which over time, in order for you, you may form of preserve doing what I name sheet mulching, which is like lasagna gardening. It’s like laying down cardboard and newspaper and straw and wooden chips and mulch, no matter type of materials that you’ve got, natural materials round you, floating round us. Put that down. And that helps lengthen these patches, in order that over time your garden disappears and also you’ve received this cornucopia of vegetation. And after I do one thing like that, I’ll typically put in type of working vegetation that may assist type of cowl that area and never have to take care of it.

Margaret: Yeah, it is sensible. So we just lately did a “New York Occasions” backyard column collectively, and also you had been speaking about this. It was concerning the topic of form of fruit patches turning into meals forests and plenty of the native species. And one factor you taught me that I didn’t know as a result of I’m not… A number of these phrases come from permaculture, the custom of permaculture. And I didn’t know that the tree, like if we are saying did a persimmon, an American persimmon tree [above], that’s our centerpiece. And beneath it, such as you stated, is the guild of companions and so forth. What are another type of centerpieces that you simply, particularly like for these getting began?

Michael: Nicely, the elderberry that I discussed earlier is a favourite. I prefer to get folks began with fruits that they’ll have success with, in order that they’ll proceed to plant. So I don’t often encourage among the tougher fruits to develop, which will be like peaches. Many apples will be fairly a little bit of enter. So when you’re not able to be very hands-on, then decide one thing that’s going to develop in a short time and simply. And elderberries, oh my, they’re one of many fastest-growing vegetation I’ve ever seen. And you may actually take a reducing on the finish of winter and stick it within the floor and growth, it’ll explode right into a bush.

Margaret: Now, we should always say you’re in Maryland [laughter].

Michael: Sure.

Margaret: So the explosion, it is perhaps slightly slower explosion up right here in Zone 5.

Michael: Sure, that’s true. However ultimately, I inform you is elderberry, I’ve been up within the Catskills and areas in New York, and I’ve seen massive, stunning, they usually bloom beautiful. So that you’re getting this edible panorama.

Margaret: A division of them is as a result of they unfold, the roots unfold sideways, they usually’re straightforward to maintain in examine when you simply go across the perimeter that you simply need with a shovel occasionally. However I grew them at all times as hen vegetation, as a result of they’re so beloved by wildlife, by birds particularly. And in order you’ve stated earlier, you employ them in your jams and syrups and popsicle liquid and issues like that. However yeah, they’re nice wildlife vegetation, too. And pollinator vegetation.

Michael: Yeah. One other factor that goes for many fruit, most of your fruiting vegetation, you’re having all these a number of advantages, so you’ll be able to plant for your self and for wildlife on the identical time. And that manner when you don’t get to reap, you’re not nervous, one thing else is prospering out of your efforts of placing it in. And people flowers additionally, you’ll be able to bake these or you’ll be able to batter and pancake these. The flowers themselves have plenty of medicinal worth, and they are often eaten lengthy earlier than the fruit reveals up.

Margaret: Sure. So elderberry is one other chance. And after we did the Occasions story, you talked about utilizing one other plant that I’ve for the birds in my panorama, plenty of them, is the Amelanchier, or shad or juneberry. And I stated to you [laughter], I stated, “Nicely, I’ve by no means tasted their fruit as a result of a flock of birds at all times is available in earlier than they even ripen, actually.” I imply, they’re simply so beloved by cedar waxwings, as an example, the fruits of the juneberry. However that’s one other doable centerpiece, proper?

Michael: It’s an exquisite centerpiece. I imply, it’s a really decorative tree whether or not you eat the fruit or not. And also you’ll typically see them in parks. I harvest them at playgrounds. I’ve seen them exterior of fast-food eating places. They’re quite common as a result of they’re very stunning as a really type of small, very delicate branching and behavior to them. After which they’ve beautiful, early seasoned flowers, like all white, these little plumes everywhere in the tree, which then in a short time flip into these little blueberry-sized fruits which have the flavour of type of cherry pie to me after I eat them, with slightly little bit of almond aftertaste. And so they’re beautiful. I hope you may get some.

And 12 months to 12 months, some years they are going to be worn out by birds. However then this 12 months, for some purpose, the birds weren’t hitting them. And we got-

Margaret: Oh, attention-grabbing.

Michael: We received an enormous harvest. I’ve made scrumptious juneberry jam. It can make nice pies. Or you’ll be able to soak it in vodka; it makes a terrific infusion.

Margaret: They usually actually need to get form of dark-colored [the ripening fruit, above]. I imply, earlier than they’re ripe and scrumptious.

Michael: Ideally, yeah. They appear to be type of reddish after which they’ll begin to go type of a purple-y. You may get them slightly early, they usually’re nonetheless fairly pacey, particularly when you’re going to make jam or type of prepare dinner them down a bit.

Margaret: O.Ok. Now, with the pawpaws, not that you simply like pawpaws or something along with your annual pawpaw pageant with 600 company and oh my goodness, at your Maryland homestead farm, and so on. You want two, right? As a result of we want slightly cross-pollination. Not like, I feel, with the persimmon, it’s I can solely have one. How does that work with pollination with a few of these issues?

Michael: So with pawpaws, extra the merrier. They develop in patches and teams for a lot of causes. However the cross-pollination is essential for pawpaws. Now, you would possibly hear they’ve that there’s a couple of cultivars which may have the potential to self-pollinate, however that’s not what you need essentially, anyway. You need genetic variety.

The one or two cultivars or uncommon specimens which may pollinate themselves should not going to have a heavy fruiting set. And over time, their fruit’s not going to be the identical high quality. So although there’s a potentiality for them to self-pollinate, typically talking, you positively wish to have cross-pollination a minimum of two, and also you wish to have them inside 20 ft of one another.

Now, the opposite caveat with pawpaws generally is you don’t need them in sturdy winds, for a few causes. One, as a result of they’ve this large tropical leaf, beautiful edible panorama specimen right here. We’re speaking like a foot lengthy, 6, 8 inches huge. Oh, completely stunning. And being that enormous, it loses plenty of water in a short time. So it doesn’t wish to be within the wind, and it desires to have sufficient moisture. Now, that doesn’t imply moist soil, as a result of they won’t develop in moist soil. They want moist soil, out of the wind. And that additionally helps with the pollination, since they’re pollinated by type of flies and fruit gnats and spiders and beetles and all these shady characters that wouldn’t actually thrive within the open as nicely.

After which I additionally go forward and plan a variety, in fact, throughout them in order that I’ve received life happening to stimulate that pollination. As a result of because it’s not bees, it’s these different characters, you wish to simply form of be inviting them in. So on the identical time, black currants for me are flowering and bringing in life round my pawpaws, goumi bushes, which is one other one among my favourite bush fruits, can be closely flowering on the identical time and drawing in simply that exercise within the zone. However you can even hand-pollinate pawpaws very efficiently.

Margaret: O.Ok. And one of many different, apart from that massive tropical type of outsized foliage, it additionally, they’ll doubtlessly get nice yellow fall shade [above], which is gorgeous, and is one other type of decorative attribute of them. So they’re good-looking.

Michael: Very stunning. And now, they’ll tackle totally different development habits relying on the place they’re at. So generally they’re generally known as an understory, and are discovered all through the jap zone, all through the woods. And the understory typically has a patch, which is one mom plant with plenty of suckers, they usually can lengthen as much as 1 / 4 of an acre in some areas. To allow them to actually dominate a zone. Proper.

Margaret: Wow! [Laughter.] That can do within the entrance garden.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. You don’t that. However that’s extra within the shade. And what it’s doing is it’s self-propagating itself, not with fruit, however by means of its rhizomes, and that’s the way it’s rising. It’s a really adaptive species. We’re speaking about the one member of the custard apple household that migrated over tens of millions of years into the chilly north. So it’s an unimaginable, very distinctive species. And the truth that we’re in a position to develop a tropical fruit right here simply blows me away. It’s simply phenomenal.

Margaret: And it’s native in plenty of states. I imply, I feel it’s like-

Michael: Good 26 out of-

Margaret: 26 states, I feel. Yeah, half the nation.

Michael: However it’s busted out of that. It’s busted out and it’s rising everywhere in the continent. They’re rising them in Europe. South Korea has planted a ton of them. I imply, they’re changing into type of this worldwide, dare I say, phenomena. I imply, there actually is plenty of pleasure and plenty of pawpaws are being planted across the temperate globe.

Margaret: Yeah. So I wish to ask you about a few issues. One is deer, which at all times comes up it doesn’t matter what I ever speak about on the present or write about within the Occasions or on the weblog or no matter: deer. And I keep in mind after we did the Occasions story, you had one enjoyable guild, one enjoyable assortment of companion vegetation, round one thing or different that, sure centerpiece that you simply used as type of a deer deterrent. Every other… You’re in 25 acres the place you’re, in your property. Now, what’s the cope with the deer? Do you have got plenty of deer?

Michael: Now we have a resident herd. I’ve really by no means seen a website with extra deer than ours. And I’ve seen lots, and I’ve labored round lots. And this website is filled with the deer, partly as a result of we’re type of on the sting of the woods and then you definitely come out into suburbia. In order that they love that edge. Plus our website is loaded with vegetation, they usually’re welcome right here. In order that needs to be a key a part of design, at all times, upfront. You’ve deer, it’s a must to design for deer first. And fortunately they don’t eat the pawpaws. They don’t eat pawpaws. Now, that stated, if pawpaws should not rising in your space and also you plant a younger pawpaw tree, the deer will strive it because-

Margaret: They’ll browse it. Yeah.

Michael: They’ll browse it to start, simply to strive it, as a result of it’s not of their reminiscence financial institution, however as quickly as they fight it, they’re not going to eat it once more. So you’ll be able to fence it for the primary couple of years, after which as soon as it will get up and as soon as it’s mature, it may possibly deal with that preliminary testing. They won’t eat it. They won’t eat it. I assure it by watching the place I’m at and all of the pawpaw bushes I’ve. It’s one of many causes I’ve plenty of pawpaw bushes, as a result of we’ve received so many deer they usually don’t eat it. So particular constructive there.

However you’re mentioning a guild that was within the article that I designed early on for a juneberry, which they most definitely would like to eat. So to get that juneberry going, I did a type of a 10-foot-by-10-foot fruit patch, and I planted the juneberry within the center after which ringing round it, I did Egyptian strolling onions, that are actually cool, and the deer don’t eat alliums, in order that they’re not going to eat that

Subsequent to that, I had a spiky gooseberry bush. In order that they’re going to return as much as that, they’re going to poke their nostril they usually’re like, “Ah, this sucks,” they usually transfer on. And subsequent to that could be a sage, a culinary sage, they usually’re not going to eat the fragrant herbs both. In order that they’re like, “Ah, nothing right here,” they usually go alongside. And I had a wormwood, one other medicinal plant, subsequent to that. After which they’re like, “Ah, there’s nothing right here,” they usually moved on they usually by no means noticed that younger juicy juneberry tree within the center. So that you will be artistic.

Margaret: So that you fooled them on that one? Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. I received them. I received them on that one.

Margaret: So among the different… I don’t know in the event that they eat elderberry. I’ve a fence around-

Michael: They do. They do eat elderberry.

Margaret: They eat elderberries [above, elderberry fruit, background, with aronia berries]?

Michael: You betcha. That’s a problem as a result of I like rising elderberries. So what I usually need to do is I’ll get type of welded wire fencing and I’ll make an excellent 4 foot, 3 to 4 foot-

Margaret: Like a fence, so to talk? Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Only a circle, and tie it round and stake it. And also you need these to be ideally 60 inches tall, and also you’ll need to develop your elderberries out of that after which have your elderberries be relatively tall, which is difficult as a result of most individuals don’t understand, like most of your shrubs, you wish to renew these stems to get supreme fruiting. So when you don’t… Like for you, you have got a fenced-in space. Ideally, you’re taking out the wooden, the stems of the American elderberry after their second 12 months. So something over two years you’re taking out, so that you solely have first and second 12 months canes, main and fruiting canes. And that manner you retain your shrub rejuvenated, and also you’re getting most fruit. In any other case they grow to be giant and type of crowded, and also you’ll get much less fruit manufacturing and well being decline will occur, so good to be interactive along with your elderberries.

Margaret: So that you’ve just lately launched this app, the Fruit Patch App, I do know. And I don’t know when you get analytics, so to talk, knowledge from… I don’t know if you understand what individuals are interested by, or have you ever had suggestions from folks or what sort of… As a result of what it does is it form of leads you thru the fundamentals of this course of we’ve been speaking about, about selecting a centerpiece relying in your solar or shade circumstances, after which selecting some guild members to go round it.

And by the best way, there’s different “guilds” that you may do. You encourage us to do what we’re going to make use of or eat. You talked about some earlier than which have ecological worth, however you additionally say we might plant our favourite herbs beneath it, proper?

Michael: Proper. So there’s no set science in all of this. It’s an idea, and also you plant what you assume you’re going to make use of and harvest. Ideally you do get in some nitrogen fixers and a few habitat vegetation, however even when you don’t, a minimum of you’re creating variety. You’re creating habitat it doesn’t matter what, by placing in different perennials round your vegetation. However by including within the nitrogen fixer, you’re serving to stability the necessity for that fertilizer. However I additionally deeply mulch on a regular basis.

So I’m continuously feeding my soil. If it doesn’t have a groundcover, a powerful groundcover on it, after which I’m mulching it, and that feeds the soil. The fungi are releasing vitamins to your bushes. So it’s not essentially a way of competitors that’s happening when you’ve got type of a juicy zone for every thing, there’s loads there they usually’re supporting one another. In order that’s one idea. You need to cope with that entire competitors, and “Oh, I’ve received to have issues all spaced out.” In a type of linear, non-fertile system that’s being fed, sure, however once you’re actually type of creating a pleasant soil base, you have got sufficient there on your vegetation to thrive.

Margaret: Nicely, in the best way that’s talking of forests, in the best way that the forest earlier than it received decimated in most locations, the best way that the forest would drop its leaf… The bushes would drop their litter leaves yearly, that leaf litter would degrade, proceed feeding the soil, all of the creatures that lived within the soil… and so forth and so forth and so forth. It was a system, as you stated earlier.

Michael: And with tons happening, a really packed system. So yeah, it’s taking that idea and commentary. However the Fruit Patch is one thing I’m very enthusiastic about. I’m at all times working towards seeing the change that I would like on the planet by actually serving to folks really feel assured in planting fruit bushes, nuts, these medicinal vegetation, and having success with it, and the way to do this, methods to meet everyone the place they’re at and beginning out. So I attempt to preserve it easy and how-to.

And the Fruit Patch is a instrument for that the place it’s beginning out with simply fundamentals. You possibly can have full-sun or partial-shade choices, and you’ll have a primary fruit, and you’ll select both like a culinary herb companion group on your tree or a type of extra of a local pollinator group on your tree or your fruit bush. And we’re quickly going so as to add mushrooms to that, in fact, as a result of one other one-

Margaret: In fact.

Michael: … of the large classes that I’m in love with, however easy-to-grow mushrooms and wine apps and issues. So yeah, very enthusiastic about that. Proper now we’ve began out, it’s on the Apple telephone, the iPhone. We’re going to get it will definitely to Android. There’s a studying curve with creating this software program, however we’re fairly pleased with the place it’s at.

Margaret: It’s enjoyable.

Michael: We definitely encourage everybody to test it out. Yeah, it’s a instrument. It’s really a instrument for a bigger imaginative and prescient we now have, which is the Meals Forest Transformation Community, which we’re beginning out alongside the jap aspect of the US. And also you’ll see a map on the app of the world that we’re beginning with so far as your decisions for rising. However then as we develop this, we’re going to create hyperlinks and type of a social community as nicely that reveals how collectively by means of our fruit patches, we are able to create this meals forest community.

Margaret: Not that you’ve got massive objectives or something like that. Or 100 of those and 100 of these bushes [laughter].

Michael: Proper, proper. Nicely, we want a lot, don’t we? We want a lot. And we want sensible issues that we are able to all do. And that’s the place I’m focusing.

Margaret: Yeah. Nicely, Michael Judd, I’m at all times glad to talk to you, too. And I had such enjoyable doing the Occasions story just lately, as I stated, as a result of I actually didn’t know lots of my fruiting vegetation are only for the birds, I assumed. So I didn’t know these different concepts of how I might make the most of them as a harvest for me, too [laughter]. In order that was form of enjoyable. And I hope I’ll speak to you once more quickly.

Michael: Fantastic. Thanks, Margaret.

enter to win a duplicate of the pawpaw e-book

I’LL BUY A COPY of “For the Love of Pawpaws” for one fortunate reader. All it’s a must to do to enter is reply this query within the feedback field beneath:

Have you ever ever grown, and even tasted, a pawpaw? What fruit do you develop in your house backyard?  

No reply, or feeling shy? Simply say one thing like “depend me in” and I’ll, however a reply is even higher. I’ll choose a random winner after entries shut Tuesday August 22, 2023 at midnight. Good luck to all.

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

favor the podcast model of the present?

MY WEEKLY public-radio present, rated a “top-5 backyard podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper within the UK, started its 14th 12 months in March 2023. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station within the nation. Pay attention regionally within the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Jap, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the Aug. 14, 2023 present utilizing the participant close to the highest of this transcript. You possibly can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).

Welcome to the lush world of gardens and nature with Katia, your dedicated guide on With a profound love for the natural world and a deep-rooted connection to all things green, Katia is your trusted companion in unraveling the beauty, science, and serenity that encompass gardens, plants, trees, and the great outdoors. Katia's journey is one of exploration and environmental appreciation, driven by a genuine fascination with the intricate ecosystems that thrive around us. Her articles are a harmonious blend of informative insights and heartfelt storytelling, capturing the essence of the botanical wonders that shape our surroundings. Drawing from a rich tapestry of horticultural knowledge and a desire to inspire environmental stewardship, Katia's writing takes you on an immersive journey through gardens of all sizes, plant species, and the delicate balance of nature. Whether she's delving into gardening tips and techniques, unveiling the unique qualities of different plants and trees, or celebrating the restorative power of nature, Katia's words paint a vivid portrait of the world outside our windows. Beyond being a dedicated chronicler of nature's splendor, Katia is a community builder. She recognizes the importance of creating a space where fellow nature enthusiasts can come together to share experiences, exchange gardening wisdom, and collectively celebrate the beauty of the outdoors. Join Katia in exploring the enchanting world of gardens, plants, trees, and nature's wonders on Embark on a journey that celebrates the intricate connections that sustain life on Earth, and let Katia's passion ignite your own appreciation for the verdant tapestry that surrounds us.

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