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!

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