Community Forest Garden at The Oak Tree?

Rona S, Steve M & Eric N met at the home of  fellow members of the food group Joanne B and Richard M earlier this week to talk about a future Forest Garden CSA or community project of some kind at The Oak Tree

Steve, Eric Rona and Joanne designing a Forest Garden

Steve, Eric Rona and Joanne designing a Forest Garden

We initially talked about what a forest garden is and took a look at Martin Crawford’s excellent book “Creating a Forest Garden: Working with nature to grow edible crops”. We ate food from The Oak Tree and enjoyed drinks from the local coop.

Some outline of costs initially scoped at about £15k per two acres acre for orchard trees (but this looked like quite a serious overestimate by the end of the evening). Eric challenged this, some of the trees already purchased by Joanne had large canopies, such as the heartnut ones. In an orchard the trees are close together, every 3m was mentioned, and dwarfing rootstock used to make harvesting easier. Spacing wider in a Forest Garden (to allow light to reach lower levels) so number of trees needed is reduced – we finished talking about around 100 trees in an intial acre of Forest Garden – with understory plants to be propagated and planted out once the trees are established (good design and reduces costs). Eric to continue with the design (thanks Eric!) with Steve and Joanne keen to have an input too.

Cost of a tree is about £15. Eric has found rootstock available for £2, so if skill in grafting could be achieved this offers cost reductions. Outline rough area of forest garden (1-2 acres) + social area and bike/car park.

Exploring what do people want of a Forest Garden. Initially Richard  & Joanne (who run The Oak Tree) had thought of this as a  financial/community company approach (where others might invest to share eventual profit) but it became clear that this was not necessarily what others had in mind, which is cool. Joanne is keen to have moral and practical support, and Richard is prepared to invest in trees, electric fencing etc.

For Eric the reward would be in seeing his permaculture design realized, he likes the idea of having occasional access is the future, seeing the design turned into living plants on the ground. He is also keen to learn new practical skills and to see the wider community getting involved.

Rona would consider investing would but would be equally happy just to get involved with helping with planting trees and learning new skills, so the social aspects a sense of achievement as if not more important than the money.
Steve is interested in doing permaculture design and with turning the group’s ideas into real stuff, acquiring skills, and has practical skills that could be of use in irrigation work etc.

We all have many other demands on our time & energy! Interest in harvesting manually and perhaps, sharecropping?

If you’re interested in being involved in future planning of the Forest Garden at The Oak Tree please email Joanne joanne@the-oak-tree.co.uk

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