Food Forest Management and Maintenance: Clearings and Thickets

One of our favourite things about food forests, and what makes them such good community resources is how low maintenance they are compared to allotment spaces, or community farms. However, before they become the self-regulating ecosystems we design them to be, a small amount of management and maintenance is required to see the vegetation through its first few years. Once established, they will yield a huge variety of different foods for people to forage for with very little effort. We are firm believers that Mother Nature knows best, and for too long now have we failed to listen, and the forests are falling silent… But not for long.  

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It has been an exciting few weeks at the Food Forest Project. Hillier garden centre, in Bath, have kindly given us a battery operated brush cutter to help us cut the pathways through our community food forests, allowing them to stay wild for wildlife, but traversable for the community to forage in! In this way we can protect precious habitat whilst still using the land for ourselves. Thank you Hillier, we hope you’ll be able to make it to one of our sites to see how you’ve been able to help us.


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In conjunction with this, we are pleased to say that we have taken on our first Food Forest Ranger! Sam Tetley is an experienced horticulturalist, and will help us to manage our food forest plots. The wonderful thing about food forests is that they are low maintenance, but high yield. However, after planting the forests, some care is required for the first few years to ensure a healthy and prosperous edible woodland landscape prevails. Sam’s role with us will be to ensure the pathways are cut through April to October, and to identify any issues with the plots should they arise. After five years, the plots become self-regulating ecosystems providing food and shelter for wildlife, and food for the local community.  

In the times to come, it may be that we will relearn to look to forests for our survival. Finding food, shelter and safety in the strength of their thickets, and health and wellbeing in the air of their clearings. Until that time comes, we will continue to plant edible woodlands all over the UK, and look to our friends for help along the way. 



Earth Overshoot Day

How long would a years supply of our planet’s resources last, if every country woke up on January 1st 2019 and consumed like the UK? 137 days.  Today is day 137. Today, we would need a whole new planet. To make it through a full year, we would need 2.66 planets.

If we #MoveTheDate by 5 days each year, we will be living on less than one planet per year before 2050.  Change is possible. Sustainability is possible.

Changing the way we produce, distribute, and consume food is one of the four solutions to our problem.  At the Food Forest Project we are working hard to be part of the solution. By planting local food forests we are helping to feed people sustainably, and are giving back to the planet by providing the trees it needs.  We work at a community level, empowering people to live sustainably. Our projects give people from all walks of life the opportunity to reconnect with nature. By supporting our work you are aligning yourself with the solution.  You can make a difference.

We’d love to see what you’re doing to help humanity live within its means. Use #MoveTheDate and tag us @FoodForestProj to share your sustainable choices!

To find out more about Earth Overshoot Day please visit:
https://www.overshootday.org/

The Food Forest Project and Bioregionalism: Regeneration of Soil and Society

We are living in very challenging times. Our societies are broken, our governments lost and antiquated, our social framework inherently unsustainable and our natural world is failing. However, hope is not lost. There are some very positive movements happening all across the world, and they are only growing in scope, scale and popularity. Much of the research coming out of some of our most trusted institutes indicates that we need systematic change. We need change at all levels so that we can do more than just survive, but thrive, and our thriving is inextricably linked to the health and prosperity of our natural world. Our aim is to plant our food forests, our seeds of change, within communities all over the UK, with the core objective of eventually generating larger bioregions centered in regenerative agriculture. We will look to start this movement in Shepton Mallet, a location that was once known for it’s fine sheep wool trade and thriving market economy of local produce, which became overshadowed by industrialisation and a prison that is no longer in use.

We have been lucky enough to meet some like minded landowners local to Shepton, that share our vision of bioregionalism, and creating a more sustainable and diverse economy in the local area centered in regenerative agriculture, and renewable energies.

Circular Food Economy (Rights of Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

Circular Food Economy (Rights of Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

Over the coming months and years, we shall be working with these landowners, and the town and district councils to design, build and promote food forest ecosystems on the land in and around Shepton for community use (see our website for images and information on the first food forest project in Shepton Mallet, planted on the 30th March, 2019). The food forests will make up the bioregional boundary, the produce of which will be fed into the local communities and the waste of which will be fed back out to feed the soil in these areas, creating a healthy landscape and a waste free system.

It is our vision that by 2025, Shepton Mallet and its constituent villages will be a full bioregion trading in a circular food economy for the benefit of people and place.

A Day’s Toil for Tomorrow’s Soil: How a Community Came Together to Plant a Forest.

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Months of planning and hard graft culminated on the 30th of March with a hugely successful and wonderfully enjoyable community plant up day, and we are still buzzing with the excitement. The local community came out in full force, as did the sun, to help us plant the first three layers of the Shepton Mallet food forest. It was a day of fog and sunshine, of tea drinking and cake eating, of birds singing and the first signs of Spring playing on a light breeze, but most importantly, it was a day where we all came together as a community and helped plant a food forest that will benefit local people, and the planet for hundreds of years to come.

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In total, we planted 114 trees and shrubs and raised £160 for the Education and Well Being Centre for the site, a huge success. The site is now open and the local community will be able to watch the seeds of their labour grow. That isn’t it for The Food Forest Project and the Shepton Mallet plot, though. Next Spring we shall have a second project on the site to plant further layers of the food forest, which we hope will be of equal success!

The food forests that we plant are for local communities on a deeper level than a free green space that produces food. They are about reconnecting people with the land in which we live; the air we breathe, and the soil in which we depend for food. One of the ways in which The Food Forest Project seeks to achieve this goal is by building Education and Well Being Centres as part of each project. The Centres will serve as a place for people to learn about permaculture, practice yoga and meditation, for school and community groups to use. The Centres play an active role in the systems we design for communities. They are the anthropogenic element of the sites and allow people to be in the forests, to study them, grow with them and learn from them in a space that doesn’t put too much pressure on the natural ecosystem. We hope to start work on the Centre in Shepton in the Autumn!

In Other News…

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In other news, we’re proud to have received a very important endorsement from the First Chair of the Charities Commission, Geraldine Peacock CBE. Geraldine is a very special and interesting person. Geraldine was appointed Chief Charity Commissioner and the Charity Commission's first Chair-designate in 2004, with the remit of making the Commission 'fit for purpose' to implement the new Charities Act (which, among other things, replaced the role of Chief Charity Commissioner with those of Chair and Chief Executive). She left the Commission in July 2006, having laid firm foundations for the Charities Bill and with the Commission charged and invigorated to implement it.

Before joining the Charity Commission Geraldine was CEO of two major charities, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the National Autistic Society, and Chair of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), Futurebuilders and Groundbreakers.

Geraldine is on the Board of Social Finance, a Patron of Autism Speaks, the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity and the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA).

Geraldine sits on the Board for Social Enterprise at Harvard Business School, where she lectures on the MBA programme. She is an Associate Fellow at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, sits on the Said Business School Board at Oxford, and is also a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Cass Business School, London.

We are so proud to have her endorsement, which we hope will stand us in good stead as we transition from a Community Interest Company to a Charity.

We will be planning a host of events of the coming months - keep a look out on our website and social media for updates!

Follow us on social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/foodforestproj/

https://www.instagram.com/foodforestproj/

Our New Team Member!

The Food Forest Project officially launched ten months ago, in June 2018. We’ve been working hard to promote the organisation, and the benefits that a food forest can bring to local communities. We’ve been involved in markets and street fayres, we’re active on social media and update our website regularly, we write articles for magazines and newspapers, we’ve given talks and created YouTube videos but there are only so many people that we can reach in doing these things. So, we reached out for an Event Manager and found one!

Fern is an experienced events manager, having created and led on many festivals and weddings. She is part of the management team for a social enterprise in Glastonbury, Somerset, and is a keen advocate for sustainable living, agricultural reform and community cohesion. Fern has joined the Food Forest Project to create inspiring events that will help showcase the positive effects of food forests and permaculture on local communities, and society in general.  We hope to be hosting film nights, talks and conferences, festivals and fayres very soon, so keep an eye out on our website for an event near you!

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Fern statement:

“I am so thrilled to be joining the Food Forest Project. I have be an avid supporter since they launched back in June because the cause is very much needed in to days society. Communities are fractured, loneliness and depression are more common. We are also getting more and more disconnected with where our food is coming from, which is why I believe that the Food Forest Project helps resolves some of these issues. I am looking forward to putting on memorable and meaningful events on behalf of the Food Forest Project starting with the Shepton Mallet plant up event on the 30th March. Thank you for welcoming me to the team.”

Keep a look out on our website and social media for upcoming events!  


Follow us on social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/foodforestproj/

https://www.instagram.com/foodforestproj/


Website:

www.thefoodforestproject.org




Shepton Mallet Tree Plant Up Day ~ 30th March

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On the 30th March we are hosting our very first tree plant up event for the Shepton Mallet Food Forest Plot and we are looking for volunteers!

As you may be aware the Woodland Trust and the Conservation Volunteers granted us a large amount of wild harvest trees. We have planted some of these but the rest are currently being heeled in waiting to be planted.

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Tristan and Tobias have been working hard on the design and specification for the Shepton Mallet plot to ensure we are planting the best trees and vegetation for the space and where each tree should be located to work best for the food forest system. Many considerations have to be made, such as where the weather is coming from, historic issues with the land, drainage, soil variation, buffer zones, wild life corridors, pragmatism for end use by people and wild life and many other things which will effect how successful the food forest is.

If you would like to get involved with the event please contact us as we would love to hear from you.

All ages welcome, there will be a stall and refreshments available for donations.

Did somebody order some trees…?

Friday the 9th of November 2018 was a very good day for us here at the Food Forest Project. We received confirmation not only from the Woodland Trust granting us a large amount of wild harvest trees, but also from the Conservation Volunteers granting us a further amount of wild harvest trees. That’s good news for wildlife and nature, and great news for the communities local to our plots!

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

These trees will play an instrumental role in the creation of habitat for windling species such as the Turtle Dove, which has suffered a 91% UK population decline since 1995, the elusive Nightingale that hides in dense bushes and hedgerows of which the RSPB believes we only have 6000 breeding pairs left in the UK, different varieties of bats and many other declining species that will shelter and feed on the trees and shrubs, and the insects they house.

Nightingale

Nightingale

Working with local communities, and with the help of organisations such as the Woodland Trust and the Conservation Volunteers, the Food Forest Project shall endeavour to plant up agroforests, re-wildhedgerows and sustainably produce crops to heal the natural landscape, and yield unprocessed, natural food for people to pick and eat for free, and with no waste!

If you’d like to learn more about what we do, please visit our website, and perhaps soon

with your help, we’ll have a food forest near you.

www.thefoodforestproject.org

Why is deforestation a political issue (and what can we do to help the orangutans)?

The hype surrounding Christmas adverts from retailers only grows year-on- year - all vying to pull more at our heartstrings. But nothing is more emotive than the subject of this year’s campaign from frozen food retailer Iceland: the story of rainforest destruction and its effects on the gentle and intelligent orangutan.

This was immediately banned from TV but can still be viewed online. Bring tissues.
(click on image to view the video)

It could be easy to feel disheartened that presenting the reality of rainforest destruction in this manner has been branded as ‘being seen to support a political issue’. Trying to navigate our way through this post fact world is frightening, as we witness that taking a side in a truly bold and positive way is being censored. Expanding palm oil plantations really is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation. It’s fact, not opinion.

But this anxiety is being rinsed into insignificance as people take to social media to show their support by watching - at time of writing, the advert has more than 1.8m views - sharing and calling for the ban to be lifted. This is nothing less than heartening in its deepest sense.

Equally as heartening is that Iceland – a retailer that’s not historically associated with sustainability – is actually pioneering on this front.

The critically endangered orangutan is the poster child for the devastating effects of rainforest destruction. And in her echo are the Turtle Dove, Hedgehog and Hazel Dormouse here on our shores that are heavily in decline due to unsustainable agriculture practices.

Iceland’s campaign resonates with us deeply at the Food Forest Project as it reminds us that habitat loss is devastating, and that habitat creation is a healing on no small scale. We are reminded that trees are life, and that we are homeless, unhealthy and unsustainable without them. We are reminded that by using permaculture as a practical application and philosophy, with a ‘less is more’ outlook, we can reduce the unrelenting pressure on the Earth’s finite resources, and we are reminded of how we currently use our inequitable power within our planet’s ecosystem, and how it is our moral duty and more than within our means to use it differently.

By the end of the year, Iceland has pledged to cut palm oil from all its own label food. It’s an example of a retailer – ultimately just another group of individuals – who could not stand by and do nothing in the face of continued deforestation in South East Asia.

In the spirit of our previous blog about championing small actions, here’s how we call all help the orangutans:

- Buy palm-oil free products. Check out the Ethical Consumer’s

comprehensive list.

- Buy only FSC-certified products. Illegal logging is also destroying the

orangutans home.

- Symbolically adopt an orang-utan. (Great Christmas present.)

- Support charities that rescue and rehabilitate orang-utans, or hold

companies accountable for their palm oil sourcing.

- Lend your voice: sign this Greenpeace petition and tell companies to keep

their promises.

The Race We Can Win..

“A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.” BUT, WHAT CAN WE DO!?

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On the 10th September, the Secretary General delivered a major address at UN Headquarters. Speaking to a diverse audience on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, he outlined the danger, highlighted solutions, and emphasised the need for greater ambition and stronger leadership in addressing what he has called “the defining threat of our time”.

For many of us, however, the UN is an anathema. A high level powerful something that we hear about in the peripheries of global affairs. To consider utterings from the direction of the UN about having 12 years to avert the worst effects of Climate Change that will negatively impact not on millions, but billions of people, is often too much for the lay folk to comprehend. So, what can we do at our level?

Think small, that’s what. Every little thing we do, positive or negative, has a much wider effect down the line.

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In the latest edition of Positive News,

Jonathon Lovett discusses the “ripple effect” of small actions. The idea that small actions have much greater effects down the line. What can we do today, right now to help what the Secretary General of the UN addressed the UN with last week – start small. Be kind, be positive, switch to renewable energy, eat one less meat dish a week, recycle a bit more, opt for less plastic waste and spread the word. You are not helpless; you are strong and make up an integral part of the whole. Get behind a movement, be the change! We only have one chance at life, and we only have one planet - a planet that we depend upon for the survival of our species. We are all in this together.

The Food Forest Project will continue to push for a project near you, and help to plant the trees that are required for fresh air, carbon capture and habitat, and produce fresh food for local communities at no cost to people or the earth. Sustainable farming, permaculture and agro-forestry play a huge part in the race against catastrophic Climate Change, we will continue to do our bit.

What will you do?

Applying for £1,000's and hundreds of trees

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A huge part of establishing ourselves as a fledgling NGO, and being able to do the work we do, is to reel off funding applications.

And there are some really exciting ones we’ve just signed, sealed and delivered (read: applied for!)

The first is the Woodland Trust’s free trees for schools and communities. We’ve applied for a large wild harvest of 420 saplings, which - if successful - will be delivered by 2019 and be used to start the Shepton Mallet community food forest.

We’re also looking into applying for Tesco Bags of Help – the community grant scheme funded by the 5p bag levy. If selected to come into store for customers to vote, we would receive at least £1,000. The second project would receive upto £2,000 and the first project gets up to £4,000!

There’s also the possibility of us coming into store and raising awareness of our project – so do watch out for us in Shepton Mallet Tesco, and come say hello. :-)

In the immediate term, we’re in the middle of funding timber post, rail and wire fencing for the plot - if you are interested in supporting this project, please follow our Go Fund Me page link. We’re already overwhelmed by the generosity received and would like to thank those who have donated.

Please stay tuned to follow the progress of the project on the blog and on our projects page.

Announcing our new community project in Shepton Mallet

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Exciting news: we are about to embark on a food forest project in Shepton Mallet, Somerset!

 

The plot needs fencing off with timber post, rail and wire fencing, and - as a small non-profit that relies completely on the generosity of individuals that share our values – we’ve started a crowdfunding campaign for the materials required to build our fence. 

 

In just seven days, we’ve raised £350 out of our £1,000 target. This is not only donations from friends and family but also from members of the community who would value such a local initiative, and those who support such practices at large.

 

Next month our funding page will also go in Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine.     

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In October we shall be, depending on funding, just starting to put the fencing up and having signage made.

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In the meantime, check it out on GoFundMe, and we thank you in advance for any support that you may be able to give.

 Please stay tuned to follow the progress of the project on the blog and on our projects page.

The Food Forest Project

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The Food Forest Project (TFFP) was set up by a group of individuals that felt moved by the plight of the natural landscape, and the people linked to that landscape. As an organisation, it seeks to combat issues such as loneliness within communities, habitat depletion, accessibility of locally sourced, organic food and to help to heal intensively farmed agricultural land.  At the heart of the FFP, is our strategic plan (please see ‘Mission’). We want to help bring communities together by creating community hubs in the shape of food forests, that can not only restore failing landscapes, but also restore the connectivity with our neighbours; to make whole what we all lack in this world of disconnect – relationships. Relationships with ourselves, by giving a sense of purpose and self-respect, relationship with the communities we live in by bringing people together to work on projects for each other, and the relationship we have with our natural world by reinvigorating a sense of respect for the living world around us. 

 The Food Forest Project sets out to rehabilitate intensively used agricultural and industrial land by planting food forests. Food Forests, or Forest Gardens as they are more commonly known in  the UK, are a form of sustainable agriculture, or 'agro-forestry.' Typically made up of seven layers of food producing vegetation, from canopy layer through to the ground and root layer, they are self-regulating ecosystems that after an initial period of tending can be left to produce many different types of fruit, nut, herbs and vegetables without the need for use of pesticides or any other inorganic chemical compounds. 

Food Forests have a variety of wide ranging benefits to people and place, from habitat creation to carbon capture, further explained within the Food Forest Project website.

The Food Forest Project will be working in partnership with local land owners and farmers, local communities, local authorities, schools and food producers to help educate about the need for a healthy landscape in food production, and about the future benefits of permacultural practice. 

Each of these different layers is not only producing food for our consumption, but food and habitat for wildlife. The reason no chemical pesticides are required in our food forests, is that each layer has a predator that eats the insects that may harm the crops. Further more, as the wildlife within the forest defecate they spread more seeds and fertilise the ground bolstering the rotting vegetation to create healthy soil, and a self-sustaining ecosystem or renewal and regeneration. The forest looks after itself, producing more or less with the abundance of each integral part. 

Each of these different layers is not only producing food for our consumption, but food and habitat for wildlife. The reason no chemical pesticides are required in our food forests, is that each layer has a predator that eats the insects that may harm the crops. Further more, as the wildlife within the forest defecate they spread more seeds and fertilise the ground bolstering the rotting vegetation to create healthy soil, and a self-sustaining ecosystem or renewal and regeneration. The forest looks after itself, producing more or less with the abundance of each integral part. 

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Our projects are all self funded, and use volunteers from the local communities to plant the food forests and maintain them whilst they grow. Become a member today, or make a one off donation, and be part of a special movement. In becoming a member, you will receive a members card, and regular updates (should you wish it) about our work, and have a tree of your request dedicated to you or a loved one. One off donations will go towards parcels of disused land, and the resources necessary for us to build the forests.

For more information or just to say hello we would love to hear from you. Please drop us a message here.