Planting Nut Trees in the Commons



Planting Nut Trees in the Bundanoon Commons

Last month, we at the Bundanoon Village Commons Group finally, after almost three years of work communicating with Council and some few objectors, planted our twelve nut trees in a public Reserve in Bundanoon. The trees were funded by the local climate change and Transition Town group Canwin. We have committed to their ongoing care and maintenance.

Although the site is not optimal from a planting perspective (sub-optimal soils, some overshadowing), we hope that these trees will in time provide free nuts and other benefits for the community. We feel that in time due to the pressures of climate change, peak oil, economic crises and the limits to growth, communities in industrial countries will need to come together as communities, share and cooperate in order to create thriving local economies resilient to globally driven economic and ecological challenges. Our nut tree commons are a small first step within that context.

Why did we choose nut trees? Mainly because from a sustainability and transition town perspective it could be argued that nut trees give you most bang for the proverbial buck. Nut trees seem to also face less resistance from some councils and members of the community than do standard fruit trees because they are less pest-prone and need less maintenance than most fruit trees. (However, some forward-thinking councils in Australia like the Yarra Valley council in Victoria and the city of Wollongong in NSW, are now also officially encouraging the planting of fruit trees in public areas).

From a transition movement perspective, there are the improved village green space amenity, the small contribution towards increased food security and medicinal/preventative health security. In addition, there could also be the potential for high-value wood and other materials. All these uses being the main advantages of planting nut trees in public and private areas. Hopefully, people in other towns and villages in the shire and throughout the world might be inspired to plant nut trees too.

Below are some of the health benefits and other uses of the nut tree species we planted. In general, some scientific research has found that increased consumption of nuts and seeds may help prevent and even treat cancer (cf. Jean Carper, The Food Pharmacy, pp. 64-70).

Almonds

• Possibly the most and best protein of any nut and almost no carbohydrates, thus ideal for diabetics and people with gluten allergies
• Very rich in vitamin E, potassium and phosphorous; 20 nuts provide 85% of recommended daily intake of vitamin E (anti-oxidant, heart health)
• Good amounts of essential nutrients calcium, magnesium, sulphur, chlorine, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper, as well as B vitamins
• Monounsaturated fat reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases the ‘good’
• Colonic laxative and shown to prevent colon cancer in rats
• Anti-inflammatory, immune boosting: 1 ounce contains polyphenols with the anti-oxidant effects of half a cup of cooked broccoli
• The high-value oil is used as a salad oil, skin emollient, massage oil, ingredient in soap
• Almond milk, closer to maternal milk, is useful for invalids and babies
• Chewing almonds provides good cleansing action for teeth

Hazelnuts

• Have the highest fibre content of all the nuts (10%) and are high in healthy, essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
• Very high in calcium, iron, phosphorous and the B complex vitamins
• Provide a high-value spread or butter
• Weight for weight hazels have 50% more protein than eggs, twice the phosphorous, four times the calcium, five times the vitamin B1 and are a third richer in iron
• Weight for weight hazels have twenty times more iron than milk, twelve times the magnesium, three times the phosphorous, four times the potassium, six times the sulphur, twice the calcium
• The wood is much used for coppice (poles) and can be used to make bows

Chestnuts

• An ancient staple food in Eurasia where cereals were not grown and before the introduction of the potato, also excellent fodder for fattening up animals
• Highest carbohydrates of the nuts, comparable with wheat and rice and with twice the starch of potatoes, low in fats and protein
• The only nut containing vitamin C, with 50 mg in 100g of dried nuts, as much as in lemons
• High in iron (three times that of apples) and the B complex vitamins
• Much more fibre, calcium, potassium, and zinc than in apples
• Used boiled/roasted, as flour, coffee substitute, thickener, in desserts
• An infusion of dried leaves is very useful against respiratory infections and whooping cough
• High tannin timber useful in coppice (10-30 year rotations) especially for durable fence posts, stakes, furniture, wine barrels, roof beams, firewood

Macadamias

• The macadamia nut contains the highest level of monounsaturated fatty acids of any natural commercial food.The oils in macadamia are: 84% monounsaturated (‘good fats’), and 3.5% polyunsaturated.12.5% saturated. The monounsaturated portion contains oleic fatty acid plus the highest known level of paimitoleic fatty acid, which is also present in beneficial fish oils, and may be nutritionally significant. Thus macadamias have been shown to significantly reduce blood serum cholesterol levels, as well as enhancing the protective high-density lipoproteins and suppressing undesirable low-density lipoproteins
• Macadamias contain neither cholesterol nor trans-fatty acids. Macadamias improve the balance between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. This facilitates the body’s manufacture of essential fatty acids and eicosanoids (prostaglandins etc)
• Macadamias contain significant protein comprising essential and non-essential amino acids. These play an important body building role in muscle structure, connective tissues and blood plasma development. Macadamias contain all the essential amino acids with most of these present at optimum levels
• Dietary fibre in macadamias promotes satiety, provides roughage, slows digestion and reduces hunger, promotes desirable intestinal bacteria, reduces constipation
• Macadamias are rich in: Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Calcium. They also contain significant levels of Zinc, Copper, Selenium. The most significant vitamins are: Vitamin E, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and folate
• Many phytonutrients in macadamias act as antioxidants, which scavenge the free radicals that oxidize blood fats. They operate as part of complex systems that are only partly understood. Macadamias contain tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are derivatives of Vitamin E, phytosterols such as sitosterol and also selenium. Current research has shown strong antioxidant activity with the compounds now being identified

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~ by peterln on August 6, 2012.

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