Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

Drawing highlighting the permaculture system. (Source: The Food Forest Project, 2022)

The Food Forest Project, UK

This project in Somerset uses permaculture techniques to create productive plots of land. Aiming to benefit communities, they offer the opportunity to harvest free and organic fruits and vegetables, to engage themselves through a volunteering program which aims to improve mental health and to increase biodiversity and enhance the ecology of the areas they work in. Since their beginning in 2018, they have completed community food forests, food bank gardens and rewilding projects across Somerset and Bristol.

Hillmead Forest Garden - situated along a wall this long strip of land currently sits quite bare of productive crops. (Source: The Food Forest Project, 2022)

Hillmead Forest Garden is still at the beginning of it’s growth, but will soon be a flourishing food forest for the residents of the adjacent housing estate. (Source: The Food Forest Project, 2022)

The permaculture technique of growing produce is based on 7 levels- the canopy layer, the dwarf layer, the shrub layer, the rhizosphere, the herbaceous layer, the soil surface and the vertical layer. By growing different types of crops together in one space the necessary maintenance of the plot is far reduced and the crops can become self regulating. By using this method pests are easier kept at bay due to companion plants acting defensively or attracting beneficial pest predators. By choosing to operate like this it means that community volunteers who tend the plots are able to do so with less responsibility.

People standing amongst vegetable beds at the food bank community garden. (Source: The Forest Food Project 2022)

The project has also initiated a food bank community garden. (Source: The Forest Food Project 2022)

Their project the Hillmead Forest Garden serves as a model for how to redesign wasted land. Hillmead estate is a former housing estate for the families of inmates at the local prison, which has since been decommissioned. The estate however has remained a large community. There are not many gardens within Hillmead Estate but in 2021 The Food Forest Project started the planting of a community forest garden on an adjacent plot of wasteland. This, like their other gardens will provide free fruits and vegetables to the local residents once it has been fully developed.

By working to increase biodiversity and ecology within towns and cities, transforming wasteland into productive landscapes and connecting the urban community with the source of their produce, the The Food Forest Project  can offer information and examples of ways to transform urban environments to being closer to the CPUL concept.

people tending to crops on a farm. (Source: The Forest Food Project, 2022)

The project sets up food forests for locals to be able to take advantage of. (Source: The Forest Food Project, 2022)


For further information see the project’s own website.

Image: The permaculture system is a key element of what The Food Forest Project implement. (Source: The Food Forest Project, 2022)


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* circular cities* food systems* landscape* urban agriculture

Jasmine Cook • 1st October 2017

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