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Juan Anton's Edible Forest

We depend on stores to get food, so we depend on money, and as a consequence we depend on a paid work or social aids given by the State.

However today, unemployment is increasing and more and more people struggle to find a job. So, how can you eat if you can’t rely on social aids?

Juan Anton

Everyone needs to eat, and as food comes from the ground, let’s grow our own food ourselves!

Juan Anton Mara, 78 years old, goes for a 40-minute run several times a week. He organizes meetings that last several days at his home with dozens of people. “Everyone brings their own sleeping bag, and we figure things out” he says.

There’s no need to say that Juan Anton is in stunning shape! What is his secret? A healthy lifestyle and his desire to change the world must have played their part.

The purpose of each of his actions is indeed to « change the world », or to be more precise, to fight hunger in the world. No less.

English subtitles are available, click on CC...

Society should be based on two cornerstones: « work » (the contribution of one’s skills to society), and food production. This way, no matter what happens, if one loses their job, they will always have something to eat.

As long as we depend on a paid job, our safety will be hanging by a thread.

These are not just words. Juan Anton puts the theory into practice in his own life and even goes further: he experiments withevery possible ways to make farming easier.

Being self-sufficient for food is not only safe, it is also a way to get some kind of freedom in a society where ther is no choice anymore (ever).

You have to call a spade a spade!

When you’re in a bakery and the baker can’t tell where his flour comes from, when the market is under the control of the GM industry, and when you can’t choose the products you want to buy, it is a dictatorship.

When the people you vote for spend their time lying and acting contrary to their words, it is a dictatorship.

We have to find a way to do things ourselves. We have to learn how to grow and produce healthy food, and how to sell or exchange it ourselves.

An edible forest

to feed people easily

It all started 30 years ago. Juan Anton was looking for a peaceful place to build a vegetable garden and raise chickens. He bought a small plot with orange trees. Before he retired, he was following the advice of the gardener in charge of the stand in a conventional way… until the day when he suggested him to use a herbicide that would kill the grass for 8 years. Juan Anton had an epiphany. Not knowing exactly where this would all go, Juan Anton decided to stop using chemicals. The gardener quit. A few months later, it’s a disaster. The grass is growing and the trees are dying of starvation.

I started to get interested in soil science. I took ecological farming classes and a permaculture class and I bought some of Fukuoka’s books. Then I started to apply what I was learning.

He started to put grass at the base of the trees so that it turns into compost. It took a few months for the trees to grow again, the timefor the microorganisms killed by pesticides to come back and do their job again.

Step by step, Juan Anton plants new trees: banana trees, walnut trees, almond trees, fig trees, olive trees, peach trees, and many others. He starts to create his edible forest following permaculture rules. The goal is to have the best productivity with minimal effort. And it works.

Today, the hardest part of the job is to harvest. When the leaves fall, microorganisms eat them and turn them into tree food. It’s as simple as that. It’s natural and there is nothing to add.

Juan Anton’s forest proves it: the trees are healthy and the fruits are delicious. Some simple principles explain this success; the case of common diseases in orange trees is a good example.

These orange trees are healthy only because the ground is healthy and because the diseases somehow prefer the trees from the neighboring fields. Chemical fertilizers make the sap sweet, which increases the risk of disease. Here, the ground makes the sap bitter, so the diseases stay away from it!

Today, Juan Anton’s goal is to find an easy way to produce vegetables all year long. He builds homemade greenhouses with local material or furniture, like bamboo, an old fridge, fallen tree branches. His creativity has no limit!

One of his most interesting experiments is the wall inside the main greenhouse that he built with stones picked up in the forest. He uses it to store the heat during the day and give it back during the night so that the plants don't freeze in winter.

By producing fruits, the edible forest protects us from starvation. It would be interesting to supplement it with annual plants such as vegetables, cereals, and aromatic herbs. This is not restricted to people who have a garden: you can fit pot plants everywhere!

Taking action

to get our freedom back

According to Juan Anton, anyone can create an edible forest. All you need is a small surface. You have to choose trees adapted to the climate, those that grow around naturally and enable nature to work on its own, without the help of the human hand.

  All in all, this does not require an extensive knowledge of plants; all you need is the will to do it.

And to facilitate the implementation by others, he tries out and offers everyone to come and enjoy the result of his work. Everyone is welcome to visit his edible forest and learn from it.

The forest is like a book which does not use letters but another kind of language. You only need to look at it to understand and remember it forever. Coming to see the forest is far more instructive than any other speaking words.

Dependence is slavery!

Juan Anton also organizes meetings with people either interested in food self-sufficiency or wishing to emancipate themselves from what our society imposes.

The goal is to share knowledge. Besides, meetings will soon widen to all kinds of homesteading skills: learning how to plant, how to make oil, bread, marmalade and soap, all simple things yet necessary to our independence.

Beyond that, Juan Anton considers basic agriculture knowledge should be part of academic programs. Indeed, everyone should be able to plant trees and plants in order to meet their basic needs.

The idea isn’t for us to become all farmers, but only to get enough knowledge (like learning how to drive for example), in order not to ask others to feed us, not to have to beg in the streets and wait for someone to give you something.

Juan Anton is also thinking about techniques for people who live in the cities. It is already possible to grow vegetables in trays, but he wants to go further by establishing more sustainable actions. He started the idea of growing fruit trees wherever a piece of land is available, without asking anything to anyone.

Trees, after being planted, have a longer lifespan than any human being. If we let nature take its course, trees do not need human intervention in order to produce a high quantity of food.

This is the beginning of a movement, and knowing Juan Anton, we can already tell that it won’t remain just an idea. According to him, the issue of food is in between our hands. It's all about taking action.

As long as humans are in need of food to survive and don’t have the means to get it, streets, parks, and public spaces which are not filled with fruit trees will remain an offense to all those who don’t have the means to live!

Some information

to take action near you

Become in charge of your own food production: a number of movements and actions have appeared in the past few years.

Shared gardens or community gardens
Their purpose is to offer people living in the same neighborhood the possibility to cultivate together a piece of land that they share. This also enables people from a same area to meet up and form bonds. You can find the list of shared gardens near you by contacting the network of the shared gardens: jardins-partages.org

The incredible edible
This movement has developed a lot in the past two years within cities in order to boost plantations wherever a piece of green space is available (at the foot of trees, grass land, etc.), as well as in trays. In brief, free food produced within cities and available to anyone. In order to join the movement of your own city, please check: incredible-edible.info

Guerilla gardening
In the same way, the green guerilla proposes throwing “seeds bombs”, which are vegetable grenades made of seeds and compost, in every piece of waste land, in order for vegetables and plants to grow freely. To contact your local branch, click here: guerilla-gardening-france.fr

Finally, many different ideas have been developed in order to find a solution to the lack of space within cities. In addition to the traditional growing in trays within houses and flats, vertical gardens on south-oriented surfaces are being developed, as well as urban hives which can be set on balconies or rooftop gardens.

This is a non-exhaustive list! Do not hesitate to inform us of any amazing initiative in the comment section below. Thank you!

The End

This episode from the webseries SideWays is a collective work.
Now, it is yours!

Thank you to all who participated in the project
by providing their competences and generous donations!

Creative Commons

Let's spread Juan Anton's message!

Making of and shooting of the episode

We did this shooting from the 21st to the 27th of February 2014 at Alzira, south of Valencia (Spain). Juan Anton hosted us during this period, in his Garden of Eden. Once more, it was a full collaboration between us. Juan Anton showed his greatest interest in SideWays which, according to him, participates in changing our society. We talked about this subject for hours, it was fascinating and very enriching.

We left full of enthusiasm and ideas, but also with a mini kitchen garden in a tray inside the truck! From now on we are even thinking about converting a trailer into a kitchen garden (with the help of Juan Anton)!

It is when driving north looking for our next episode, that we worked on the editing and layout of this magazine. Hélène dedicated her time to the long and meticulous work of transcription.


A webseries which gets its inspiration from permaculture principles.

This episode was financed thanks to you! We warmly thank the 20 people who have donated ! You can check the crowdfunding and our budget in details on the dedicated pages.

As you know it, your support by providing donations and competences is essential to us. This is like the natural compost for a tree (SideWays being the tree). Just like Juan Anton’s forest, we wish to remain independent from any outside addition, particularly if it is 'chemical' or 'toxic'.

“Dependence is slavery, independence is liberty”!

Once again, this is your contribution that have enabled the making of this episode. A special thank you to Julie Salmon (@JulieSalmonMex) who managed to translate the entire website into Spanish! This was a huge job that she managed to do gradually, weekend after weekend.

Thanks to Patricia Jurion, Mylène Chevreul, Elise Sanvoisin, Joane Elleouet, Marie y Mathilde Lugherini for translating into English, to Haïssa y Nathalie Quiroga for translating into Spanish, to Palou, Laurence Wuillemin and Anne Onder de Linden for translating into German and to Claudia Capello for translating into Italian!

The music comes from our favorite composer M. Looping !

We are also grateful to all the people who make free resources. Indeed, we have used the paralax plugin "skrollr" from Prinzhorn as well as the template from Petr Tichy, the fonts designed by Maelle Keita, Andrew H. Leman and Graham Meade, and the icons created by Simple Icons, Nithin Viswanathan and Gemma Garner, who are all members of the Noun Project.

Without their help, the magazine wouldn’t be what it is now. Some of them were granted a thin contribution from us (when there was a link for that).

Thanks to them, and let’s encourage alternative economies (like those of donations and contribution) and let’s work for the common good!

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