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.
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.
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.
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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