2020 Summer Seminars

2020 Summer Seminar Series

As part of the wide-ranging efforts many have undertaken to keep us all entertained/learning and connected during this time of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Forest Gardening Scheme and its members organised a 8 week series of FREE seminars covering a variety of topics related to forest gardening.

The topics are varied so whether you’re just beginning, have a few years under your belt or are looking to advocate to access space to create a new forest garden in your area there will be something for you.

Each is a standalone presentation – so watch as many as you like!

  1. Medicinal forest gardeningSimon Miles
  2. Permaculture principles of forest gardening & how to forage a super saladJo Barker
  3. How and why to advocate for forest gardens in your areaDaniel Scharf, Hannah Gardiner, Jane Morris
  4. The guilds of a forest gardenTomas Remiarz
  5. The easiest way to get started with a forest gardenJake Rayson
  6. A tour of Marston Forest Garden, OxfordAntony Melville and Richard Luff
  7. Working with ground cover in your Forest Garden – Rakesh ‘Rootsman Rak’
  8. How can we push forward the forest gardening movement? Opportunities and ideas for 2020

If you have enjoyed any of the sessions, please share your feedback. Please also consider making a donation to help support our work or join up as a member!

Medicinal forest gardening

Simon Miles (www.theforestgarden.co.uk)

This talk covers a number of interesting and generally intriguing aspects about forest gardens and our health; including why we eat what we eat, what the implications are and the potential for use to integrate medicinal plants into our forest gardens and our lives.

Simon Miles (NCH RHS) trained in Ornamental horticulture and herbalism, and has extensively studied forest gardening. He has his own 11 year old forest garden and plant nursery in Cornwall, where he runs tours and courses on forest gardening, medicinal herbs, natural healing and more. “forest gardens are a long term project and like building a house, if you don’t get your foundations right you will only create problems for later.”

Read the handout on Forest gardens and medicinal value


The permaculture principles of forest gardening, and how to forage a super salad

Jo Barker

Jo Barker is a landscape architect, passionate forest gardener and holder of the record for the greatest number of ingredients in a foraged salad. You can also see a short film of her foraging in her garden a couple of days before the seminar talk.

See more about Jo at:


How and why to advocate for forest gardens in your local area

Daniel Scharf (MRTPI)

Daniel has recently written a ‘Supplementary planning document’ for Forest Gardening and describes this document and how to use it for advocacy

Hannah Gardiner

Hannah has recently undertaken a review of the evidence base of the benefits of Forest gardening and shares useful insights for your advocacy work. See her slide presentation.

Jane Morris

Jane is one of the founders of Birchfields Forest Garden, which has been developed in a park in 2007. She talks about her journey of getting access to the park and building up the forest garden.

Here are a couple of documents as useful background: the first is a referenced paper that links forest gardening with policies addressing the climate emergency; the second is a shorter version for use specifically with local authorities.


The guilds of a forest garden

Tomas Remiarz

Tomas Remiarz, author of Forest gardening in Practice, brings his 20 years experience to answer give his presentation and answer questions from the group with detailed pictures of garden guilds. See his and read more about Tomas on his website. The recording below is in three parts.


The easiest way to get started with a forest garden

Jake Rayson

See Jake’s slides (including a download link for the checklist)

If you want to see more about Jake or get advice see his website forestgarden.wales or follow him on facebook or twitter


A tour of Marston Forest Garden, Oxford

Antony Melville and Richard Luff

Marston Forest Garden is in Court Place Farm Allotments, Oxford. Find out how this garden came into being, enjoy a virtual tour, hear about the planting plans and development plans, and how the group was formed and created. Perfect for those thinking about setting up their own community initiative!

Watch a short video from the site of Anthony explaining how he came to be involved.

Read the Marston Forest Garden background story or the photo story of the garden. You can also view the Facebook group for the garden.


Working with ground cover in your forest garden

Rakesh ‘Rootsman Rak’

In this interactive session you are introduced to the different functions of ground cover so you can consider how to design it into you forest garden guild.

Rakesh has been growing food for 40 years, and has been designing and teaching edible landscaping, permaculture, forest gardening, etc. for the past 10 years. Rakesh has designed and implemented forest gardens from small-scale private gardens and schools, to farms, community gardens, communal nature gardens, as well as designing a forest garden on part of a 30-hectare ecovillage in Croatia that he co-owned.

See Rakesh’s groundcover slides from the presentation.

Find out more on his website: www.rootsnpermaculture.com or follow him on facebook: www.facebook.com/RakeshRootsmanRak/


How can we push forward the forest gardening movement? Opportunities and ideas for 2020

The event included three presentations and a breakout discussion of the future of forest gardening.

Andrew Durling is a community forest gardener in Pevensey, Co-ordinator at Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, very engaged with local food activists and has strong links with local organic farms and local Transition Town groups. He is a fellow of thersa.org, founder of BourneCoin currency, Director at Money for All CIC and a consultant at Tech For Social Good.

Isabel Carlisle is founder and director of the Bioregional Learning Centre (BLC) in Devon, UK with a background in the arts. Since 2017 her focus has been on building collaborations to shift South Devon towards long-term climate resilience, inviting all sectors into co-designing a sustainable future. Covid 19 has a spur to BLC hosting multi-sector on-line conversations about regional resilience, so that when we re-group after the crisis we are more skilled in thinking in systems and across systems, and towards joined-up resilience.You can find the website for the Bioregional Learning Centre at www.bioregion.org.uk

Alex Bailey, Chief Executive of Adur and Worthing Councils (c. 170,000 residents) recognised for openness to ideas and innovation has led this joint body to be nominated this year for the prestigious Council of the year Award. This award recognises their ground-breaking work which has delivered successful innovation and savings that have improved the Council’s services against a backdrop of difficult budget cuts. Alex is passionate about releasing his residents creativity, and this happens to include an interest in forest gardening as a contribution to well-being and to local food resilience.

Attendees split into breakout groups to discuss the topic and the results are available here, discussing the question How can you make more Forest Gardens happen in your area?