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. 



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 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?

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.