By so narrowly defining useful landscapes, the craze to farmify our surroundings has made it all about humans. There’s nothing wrong with a utilitarian view of nature. The problem is that we are ignoring the utility of plants like wildflowers and native ornamentals in favor of imported fruit trees.
All around us, even in cities, there are natural processes at work that we depend on. Although largely overlooked, these “ecosystem services” are critical to the survival of our species.
Pollination is one such service. The transformation from flower to fruit does not happen in a vacuum. Plant sex requires an intermediary, in this case, wild bees. They do the work of spreading pollen from flower to flower — a sperm delivery service. (Though European honeybees were imported to pollinate our crops, our native wild bumblebees and other insects pollinate a significant portion, and may be more productive.)
A farm-filled landscape would undermine this critical ecological process. Bumblebees rely on wildflowers for a steady supply of pollen and nectar. But fruit trees bloom for only a few weeks a year. When forests and meadows are lost (to development or farming), places for bees to eat also disappear. These wild bees feed us, but we are not feeding them.