In rural areas I know well, the elders I know love the land but hate the feeling that their grandchildren will have to leave their homes and move elsewhere to find livable wages and satisfying livelihoods.
What if we helped them find jobs helping to recover rare wild food species and to increase the food-producing capacity of their rural landscapes through restoring habitats for fish and game, wild foraged plants and other non-timber natural products? What if family members had a broad portfolio of revenue-generating income streams derived from regenerative use of natural resources?
Two weeks ago, eighty of us explored a restoration economy based on managing mesquite for wildlife habitat, emergency livestock forage, furniture, flooring, biochar, wood chips, pod flour for baked goods and for low-sugar beverages.
This fall, my new book will be released from Chelsea Green Press, Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair, so that rural desert dwellers everywhere can further explore the integration of these possibilities. Stay tuned.
–Gary Paul Nabhan