The forest is coming to a standstill and animals are preparing for the colder weather. One year the theme for the Biomimicry Institute’s Global Design Challenge was How to improve food systems by looking to nature for design solutions.We decided to embrace this challenge on our Sunday walk.
Autumn is a busy time for many animals as they prepare for winter weather. Some animals such as swallows and martins, warblers, nightingales, and cuckoos migrate to warmer parts of the world. Hedgehogs and toads have another approach and they decide that it is better to sleep through the winter.
But how can they sleep so long without eating?
Well, they eat a lot during autumn when the forest and gardens are filled with berries and seeds. Blackberries are very popular with birds and insects. We have seen several butterflies on the blackberries. But squirrels and dormice love blackberries too. In the photo below we can see a ladybird among all the blackberries.
Fruitfall from apple trees attract birds such as the little robin who visits our garden. Hawthorn are also popular food for smaller birds. They have quite sharp thorns so it is a safe place for smaller birds to spend some time munching on the berries.
Oak trees are the best known and loved of British native trees. And squirrels love to collect and stash them away for the winter.
So what did we learn from watching animals during autumn? Well, animals eat seasonal food and food that are grown in their neighbourhood. Not a bad idea to bear in mind next time we go grocery shopping – looking for seasonal fruit and vegetables. Animals also collect and store food for the winter months and so do we. We freeze or preserve fruits and vegetables.
Finally, some inspiration what observing nature with a “looking for idea lens” can result in. A team from South Africa looked to animal collectives such as a flock of birds and they designed a Holonic Integrated Produce Swarm app for the biomimicry challenge.
The app is aimed at small-scale, intensive food production systems. The idea is that just like the birds are working together, humans could “swarms” and produce hubs, facilitating distribution and avoiding waste.
Studying nature can open up a child’s minds to a treasure trove of possibilities. Why not embrace this attitude on your next walk?
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