What We Can Learn from the Natives, Part 1

     The indigenous people were bastions of knowledge about the scrublands of West Florida. Not only did they know about the water availability issues we face here, the forest was not food desert to them. We have a good deal to learn about their lives and livelihood.
     For Hernando and Citrus counties it is known that most natives lived near thes springs and ocean. We know their diet consisted largely of fish, and that they traded with other tribes for goods. Shell Mound in Citrus County is a huge remain of their remains. It is thought the dead were entombed in cairns because of flooding and the high water table. Not a lot else is left to be found.
     Water was everything to the natives. They didn't have the technology or knowledge to dig wells for fresh water. One source states that thousands of years ago the people that lived in Florida occupied areas that are now under ocean. The Wisconsin glacier is credited with raising the water level. Buried forests have been found off the coast of the Florida Keys.
     We know that native Americans practiced a form of agriculture foreign to our modern life, called food forestry. It is a subject I am fascinated with, and have been endeavoring to turn my tiny lot into a miniature version of. Breaks in th e tree canopy are utilized to grow sun-loving annuals. Small perennial seeds or nuts are also planted in amongst the annuals. The area is weeded and planted, then the people return months or years later to harvest. Maybe the plants grew or maybe they did not, but it was very little effort for potentially huge returns.

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