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Forest gardens: how start one and maintain it - part 2

Forest Gardens: how to start one and maintain it. A two-part introductory course. Saturday and Sunday 4th - 5th May 10:00am - 4:30pm. Booking essential. 40 - 80 pounds depending upon income. Lunch included Saturday but not Sunday. At Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden in Woodhouse, Leeds.

What’s a forest garden?
Forest gardens are, on a basic level, orchards (an area with fruit trees) with some extra stuff thrown in. The trees form the backbone of the garden and determine where everything else goes. But soon one understands forest gardens can become whatever you want them to be, mainly by filling in the gaps between the trees. This can then create a space with multiple uses - a therapeutic, social, edible, medicinal, wild-life beneficial resource if done well!

They generally use perennial plants to achieve these aims, as they are plants that live for a long time and so require less maintenance or inputs that an intensive annual system. That’s not to say there is no place for annuals in the forest garden system, they just need careful consideration (like everything else!).

This exciting 2-part forest gardening course is packed with concepts, discussion, anecdotes and practical activities to give you the tools to start a forest garden, from a small garden or allotment to a larger site, suitable for most private or community-sized forest gardens. As such, it will allow you to plan, establish, maintain and harvest from a forest garden and, if interested, get other people to get involved.

Who is it for?

This course is for someone who may interested in creating a forest garden or perennial plant space, be it a small patch or a more ambitious larger project. If will particularly interest those who want to have a primarily edible space that uses perennial edible plants and this is indeed the main reason most forest gardens are created - for food. The design and practical elements will appeal to those who would like to plant something with an already specific idea of what they want but are not sure on the techniques/skills in order to do it.

If you have a space, such as an allotment, where you want to just grow as much annual vegetables as possible, as useful a thing as this may be, then this course will not be suitable for you. This course focuses on perennial plants and their systems, although will definitely talk about how annuals can be incorporated. It will however appeal to those who may want to add some perennial plants into their annual system.

Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden

Delivered by the coordinators of Bedford Fields Community Garden, a 10 year-old forest garden in inner city Leeds, you will draw on the knowledge of a forest gardener, Ben, who has been passionate about forest gardening for 6 years and coordinating Bedford Fields Community Garden for the past 4 years. Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden is a 1/3 acre demonstration forest garden on public-access council land. It has been planted to demonstrate a number of forest gardening techniques and concepts. It also has over 200 species of plants, some common and some less so. This is a purpose-designed space to learn about forest gardening.

Ben’s learning and development has also included visits to the most successful forest gardens across the UK, developing a perennial plant nursery and his involvement in a number of similar projects. Since September 2018 he has also worked as a Horticultural Support Worker at Meanwood Valley Farm, where he helps coordinate a 1 hectare market garden and amenity garden alongside adults with learning disabilities.

All monies through the workshop go to the unrestricted funds pot for Friends of Bedford Fields. They are the group that oversee and ensure development and continuation of Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden for all to use a publicly accessible resource.

What will we cover?
· What a forest garden is and what the main literature and support networks there are available for continued self-learning.
· What is most important to consider on a site to be ‘forest gardened’.
· Applying permaculture principles, research and sound horticultural knowledge in the design.
· Getting to know some well known and less commonly used forest garden plants.
· Propagation and why it's so important for forest gardens.
· How to prepare the site before planting and how to maintain it so it stay lows maintenance, weed free and productive.
· How to harvest produce, preserve it and make use of it,
· How to include the community, the public, volunteers and make sure they know about it your project.

When, where and food
The sessions run from 10:00am - 4:30pm. Both days will be spent at Bedford Fields Community Forest Gardens, although we will walk to another public garden a few hundred yards away to compare.

Saturday 4th May - A vegetarian lunch will be provided on this day. Please get in touch if you have a specific dietary requirement as we may be able to cater for it. We will pick a super salad.

Sunday 5th May - Refreshments and snacks will be provided but. Lunch will not be provided. We will however pick another super fresh salad. Please get in touch if you have a specific dietary requirement as food will not necessarily be vegetarian or vegan. You can find directions to the garden here:

Please note you can reinforce your learning by coming to Saturday workdays at Bedford Fields. See for more information

Other details
Cost is 40 - 80 pounds depending on income. This is a spectrum from unemployed/concession to part-time to full-time employment. Please enquire if you are unsure of where you fit on the spectrum.

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. To book a place or for more information call/text 07922513704 or email 

Payment is cash on the day or by direct bank transfer. I will send bank details upon confirmation of your booking.

We hope to see you very soon!

Earlier Event: May 4
Bedford Fields Saturday Workday
Later Event: May 11
Bedford Fields Saturday Workday