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.
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.
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.