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Evolution and InnovationSave Biodiversity...Rise

Forest Gardens

Forest Gardens


Edible forest gardens are becoming an increasingly popular way for permaculture projects to grow food. Forest gardens are modelled on natural woodland. Like natural woodland, they usually consist of Four layers:

  • tree layer which contains fruit and nut trees
  • shrub layer for fruit and nut bushes 
  • Creepers on tree lines for fruits and spices.
  • ground layer for perennial vegetables and herbs.

The pioneer for forest gardening in Britain was Robert Hart who spent much of his life as a farmer and gardener searching for ways in which to grow food in accordance with permaculture ethics. Many people are following in his footsteps to create productive, beautiful spaces tailored to their needs.

Emerging Trend

Robert Hart's forest garden, the first of its kind in England, was popularised by  permaculture practitioners and teachers through permaculture design courses.

Many students from these courses decided to adopt Hart's gardening principles giving rise to a second generation of forest gardens. Examples include the Agroforestry Research Trust. 

These gardens caught the attention of a wide variety of people including farmers, small holders, market gardeners and TV presenters .

As a result a third generation of forest gardens is burgeoning. In 2010, the Permaculture Association were looking for permaculture projects who wanted to conduct research into forest gardens. The organisation expected about 10 smallholders to come forward, but in all 70 projects came forward. These projects are all in the process of planning and creating forest gardens, the association expects the number of projects to increase as more people understand the value of producing food using natural systems. 

Forest gardens form part of an ecological gardening and farming approach and are used by people wanting to farm naturally.  Today forest gardens are being planted all over the country in both rural and urban locations, in a range of climates and in a variety of guises. 

Forest gardens serve many functions. They are a productive way of growing food, fuel, fibres and medicines, they can be used as part of a growing business, as an educational tool, for therapy and as a way of bringing people together. 

No two forest gardens are alike as each is one is tailored to the conditions of the land, and the needs of the individuals and communities that run them. The beauty of forest gardens is that they require minimal maintenance as they are essentially multi-layered ecosystems designed to mimic small woodlands.  

A successful forest garden requires right planning along with Clear Vision and Patience . 

Street Schemes & Public Plantings

Overview & Emerging Trend


Public plantings in streets and common areas has a long tradition of making a neighbourhood a more pleasant place to live. Traditionally street greenery was made up primarily of flowers and shrubs, from municipal hanging baskets to flower borders, from shrubbery areas to trees.

Until recently, there were few if any initiatives to grow edible plants using street space, communal areas eg precincts and marginal areas bordering streets or roads. But several different ideas are now taking off which make use of these public areas for vegetable and fruit growing.

In some cases, a selection of flowerbeds, herbaceous borders and other public land are being turned over to cultivating food. Transition towns and Local Food Coalitions.

In other urban areas, where there is high density housing, schemes have sprung up which add greenery, including edible plants, to alleyways between terraced houses. Not only does this give a sense of pride to their area for local residents, but also brings the community together and promotes healthy eating.

Where public or communal land is particularly hard to find, some schemes are concentrating on providing tools, seeds, planters and advice to residents of a street so they can grow food communally, but using their own gardens, balconies or, in some cases, roof space.

There are also national initiatives springing up which encourage the better use of streets, with some of the activities being food related. for example he Big Lunch, where neighbours are encouraged to get together to share food together in their street and share ideas with future generations related Pure Food.

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