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Public forest gardens

 
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Can anybody direct me to a public forest garden (especially in the UK/RoI)?

I am planning to start one (or something close to a forest garden) in our local park with the support of the tidy towns group (who so far agreed in principle to edible landscaping but not the details). I would love to learn what works and what doesnt in a public setting, and how much management it requires. What scale is manageable if there are only a couple of volunteers involved? Also, since it's a public park, it's popular with dog walkers. Shall I try and get the area to be fenced off to stop dog fouling? Or is it more realistic to just plant an orchard and an edible hedge with maybe larger salad plants like perennial kale, artichokes, aralia as a lower layer? Plus allow wild plants like nettles, hogweed and Alexander's grow freely as you can always pick from the top, at a height dogs can't lift their legs to?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated
 
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Can't help you much with gardens to look at since it seems that you are wanting a community garden rather than a garden that people can visit? (I can suggest many of the latter) You could try contacting  The Agroforestry Research Trust I think Martin Crawford has a database for Forest Gardens that may be worth a try. I found Social Farms and Gardens as well, but many of these are not Forest Gardens, but it is easy to search for ones close to you on the maps on the website, maybe they can help if you contact them.
This project in Oxfordshire looks very interesting : Sustainable Blewbury but they describe it as a community orchard rather than Forest Garden. I remember there being a community Forest garden outside Centre for Alternative Technology near Machyllneth, but It's been several years since I visited there, so don't know what it's like now.  There's a demonstration garden on the way into the Eden Project in Cornwall (introduced me to Shepherdia Candensis)

but I wouldn't describe it as a community garden...
As regards practicalities, I think it probably depends on the site and the neighbours. You always get someone who'll spoil it for everyone, but if the idea is to encourage people to take free fresh food stealing the crop isn't possible! I think I would prefer keeping dogs out (mine are sometimes quite desctructive) - could it be combined with a kiddy area if all the plants are carefully checked (you'd want to do this anyway I guess)? Then the children are fenced in and the dogs are fenced out. Forest gardens can make great places to play.
 
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We have two forest-garden-ish community gardens near me in Aberdeen. I say 'ish' because one lacks a productive tree layer, being surrounded already by large trees and a building, and the other lacks a productive ground layer because of the issues you mention with dogs. However, I think they both prove the principle that forest gardens work well as community gardens. For me they actually work better than annual ones as they are more resilient and the food is easier to share out equitably since it takes less work to grow it but more work to pick it. They have a combined area of maybe 100 square metres (pure guess) and could easily be managed by 2 people.
 
Nancy Reading
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I'll add as well that the workload of a forest garden tends to be front loaded - lots of work in the site preparation and planting, then less as time goes on - assuming the layout turns out to work for your site and depending on how 'tidy' your landlords expect things to be! If you can get enough community interest in 'tree planting' events that would spread out some of the work in getting started.
 
Elena Brooks
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Thank you both. That's really helpful. I did think that a full forest garden may not be possible but I am going to see if at least some elements may work.
 
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Hey,

This afternoon I took a walk through a public food Forrest, at "the train sheds" near Nobbies head near Newcastle CBD.

It is not professional, its just run undirected with people contributing and local residents donating plants, and food waste.
its highly productive!

Some of the issues I noticed where,

the garden hoses had a problem of being stolen and cut apart and put into plastic bottles, for substance use.

People took unready produce and did things that were damaging to plants, like over harvesting of leaves,

Plants were regularly stolen.

Huge issues with plant diseases!!!

Council, allowed it to happen but did not want to get involved because of liability,

parents took kids there play, so Being a man alone is something that can feel uncomfortable.

People walked on off the paths so this causes damage,

One person would manage on part and another another part and because one person wanted to include (Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis), has some Non P.C common names)  it became a huge problem for other gardeners.


one good thing to see was they made visual instructions and guides, able to be understood for anyone!

 
Nancy Reading
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Hi Elena,
Did you see this post and video Abundance?   The featured Permaculture garden is based in Ireland and looks gorgeous! They do have a Forest garden and much more by the sounds of it. Only been going 12 years or so. I'm very impressed by their kiwi!
 
Elena Brooks
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Thanks Nancy, just checked it out. Great stuff. I also grow kiwis:)
 
Elena Brooks
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[quote=Alex Moffitt]Hey,

This afternoon I took a walk through a public food Forrest, at "the train sheds" near Nobbies head near Newcastle CBD.

[/quote]

Thanks Alex, good to hear about problems/issues that may arise which are not at all surprising. I think we'll start small and focus on trees and shrubs.
 
Alex Moffitt
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Hey,

If you want to share some stories of the progress and or images,
I would enjoy looking and reading about it!

Sincere Regards,
Alex
 
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