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.

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

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.