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Wild by Design is a mini design toolkit to inspire creative solutions for people to live in harmony with nature

Land :: Forest Gardens

Forest Gardening is another name for mixed agroforestry, i.e. growing herbaceous, shrubs and trees together to form mutually beneficial relationships. This model provides for human needs within an ecosystem that supports wildlife and biodiversity, in other words it is resilient and high yielding..  Robert Hart brought the idea of forest gardens from the tropics years ago, where he saw abundant food, fibre and medicine growing in a semi wild forest.  He compared the efficiency and ecological value of this compared to deserts of monoculture crops needing constant work and fertility inputs and sought to emulate this in a temperate climate in England.  Nowadays the leading example of this is Martin Crawford’s 2 acre site at Dartington College in Devon and he has captured the imagination of a generation of permaculture gardeners with the promise of a low energy, highly designed food forest. 

Key principles that inform forest gardening in the UK:

For me a forest garden has almost a mythical quality, conjuring images of fruit laden woodlands and sacred groves.  It simultaneously satisfies my dreams of living in landscape of ancient trees, surrounded  by birds and animals whilst giving me a practical model to address my fears for the future of food security and increasingly erratic weather.

Below are some pictures of our young forest garden at Berllan Dawel.  Berllan is the welsh word for orchard which beautifully translates as sacred place of sweet luscious things; Dawel means peaceful or quiet.  In time we want the whole plot to feel like a forest garden, the veg beds and ponds becoming glades within it.  So when the wind howls through the infant windbreak, spindly cherry trees break in half and words are heated I’m trusting the name and intention for this place will happen, but three years is early days for a woodland ecosystem!

Resources

Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford

Forest Gardening by Robert Hart

How to make a forest garden by P.Whitefield

Plants for a Future by K. Fern

Plant and seed suppliers:

Agroforestry Research Trust

Cool Temperate

Gourmet Organic