Blogs >> Forest Garden Delights by Emilia Brumpton

Forest Garden Delights by Emilia Brumpton

The Schumacher College gardens are home to two forest gardens, the first is smaller and established eight years ago and the second is larger and established four years ago.

I hear some of you ask “What is a Forest Garden?” A Forest Garden is an edible garden space designed using the systems found in woodland ecosystems. All potential growing spaces are utilised by layering fruit and nut trees, shrubs, groundcover plants, herbs, vines and tubers/roots. Most plants are perennial, meaning they will live for many years once planted and causing less soil disturbance than an annual food growing system. I have been fascinated with Forest Gardens for many years, as they are inspired by how plants exist outside of annual growing systems, or conventional farming practices.

By exploring how to assist and enrich the relationships that plants develop between each other we can work towards holistic and regenerative food systems. An example of these relationships is trees shedding leaves that create mulch and soil for shade-loving shrubs or herbs living below its canopy whilst vines can climb up the support provided by the trees trunks. These plants have developed to co-exist in a shared space that provides benefits from each other’s qualities.

Not only can a Forest Garden present a low-maintenance, sustainable food-growing system, these spaces can inspire humans to work and collaborate together more effectively. During our Horticultural Internship at Schumacher College, we are encouraged to take on a project to work with. I was delighted to adopt the 1-acre Forest Garden in Henri’s Field for my focussed project, which was designed and created by Ella Sparks four years ago.

In the Forest Garden there are salad and edible greens beds, tubers, an abundance of soft fruit bushes, a cider-apple orchard, a herbal tea garden, edible flowers and many medicinal plants. I am enjoying the learning experience and excited to share what I am learning with volunteers and the students on our Practical Residence in Sustainable Horticulture.

If you are interested in learning more, we welcome volunteers in the Forest garden on Thursday afternoons 2pm – 4.45pm and the first Saturday of the month 10am – 1pm.

Blog post by Emilia Brumpton

Emilia is a Horticultural Intern with the Schumacher College Growing Team who will soon be launching their Sustainable Growing Online Course on Monday 1 March. There's still time to book your place on the three or six month version of the course via this link