Forest Garden Skill Share, April 2017

Many thanks to all who came to welcome in the Spring and share your forest garden knowledge.

We had the pleasure to be joined by Graham Burnett and his PDC students, so thought this would be a good chance to get their input from a permaculture design perspective. Jo took us on an interactive tour of the garden, asking how the permaculture design principles had been applied to our site. The answers are now being used to create twelve gorgeous permaculture trail signs for the garden. (See attached - thanks to Jo for the text and Nick for the layout!)

Richard gave us the lowdown on which plants would most likely survive extreme weather. Good information to know... also useful, as these are the right ones to pick if you want to create the lowest-maintenance garden possible. Various interesting leaves found their way into our lunch, sometimes unintentionally. Nepalese Pepper, three cornered leek and wild garlic. The afternoon ended on a relaxing buzz - we were treated to jazzy guitar from Graham, bees in the comfrey flowers and bottles of earthy wine donated by our generous neighbour, Luis, in return for some earthy compost.

But now for the important bit - the research and  projects from the brilliant guests that came.

First was Sonia Do Carmo Dias, who gave us her interpretation of a study following a Ten-Year Forest Garden Trial. As Sonia put it:

"Very little research has been done in this area since the term 'forest gardening' was first introduced around forty years ago. Because of this, the facts and data are scarce and sometimes unreliable. This was the main reason behind the "Ten year Forest Garden Trial", initiated by The Permaculture Association. The intent of this trial was to follow the journey of ten very different forest gardens.  All projects started at the same stage, from a blank canvas. All had to report on year three, five and ten (year ten will be in 2021). 

Independently from the size and main objective of each forest garden, the successes have been largely the same; higher yields, substantial improvements in biodiversity and soil quality, significantly decreased maintenance, a stronger sense of community & self-enrichment. There is a similar uniformity when it comes to the negative points however, with evidence of some struggling due to lack of preparation, resources and specific knowledge in the initial phases of the project. These kinds of issues continued with the maturing of the forest gardens. In general however, all of the sites reported a positive impact in their lives as a result of the forest gardens, even with the teething problems to date."

More results to follow. Many thanks Sonia!

Camila Barboza spoke about her current apprenticeship at the Castle Climbing Centre Garden and the work they do there as a sustainable enterprise. The one-acre community garden supplies the café and volunteers with produce, featuring vegetables, herbs and a thriving forest garden at the back.

Ilana Estreich gave us an insight into her role at Cultivate London - an innovative urban farm and social enterprise training young people in West London. Also her new project Green Hanwell, where she works with the community to establish and maintain green areas on local estates.

Nick Turner spoke about an interesting series of workshops that he’s been attending on the ‘soil-food-web’ by Joel Williams, organised by the Cecil Sharp House LAND Project. Word has it these will be repeated, so watch this space. Joel will be presenting a seminar at the upcoming London Permaculture Festival at the end of July.

A big thanks to all who came and spoke.

Summer Skill Share

Our next Forest Garden Skill Share is coming up on the 10th June. We are proud to be hosting the National Forest Gardening scheme, with:

- an update on work with the Newhaven community
- fingers crossed, a viewing of the newly minted short film
- emerging thinking about forest gardens as learning spaces (for example reaction to our proposed course at Schumacher)
- all your news
- ...and we will have space to sharpen our focus together on where NFGS can really make a difference.

Plus of course all of the news about what we’re up to at ELL. To get involved please join the Loomio group or get in contact with us at Edible Landscapes London.

Autumn Skill Share

ELL is looking forward to hosting Tomas Remiarz in November. Tomas will be presenting an interactive workshop and visual exhibition on his excellent new book, Forest Gardening In Practice.

In the meantime, do come and join us on site on Fridays and every third Saturday of the month, 10-1 and check out what we're up to! We'll be lighting the storm kettle for a forest garden cuppa, no doubt. We look forward to see you there!