Community garden examples
Edible forest gardens can be planted anywhere and the National Forest Gardening Scheme wants to encourage more in the grounds of public and community buildings – village halls, clubs, churches, on derelict land and in parks etc. Examples of pioneering community forest gardens include:
Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden, Leeds
“Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden is an open-access garden demonstrating how forest gardening can be a viable alternative to our food system – resilient to social and climactic change. It serves the local communities of Woodhouse and Hyde Park, and all who happen to visit this part of Leeds.
All the plants in the Bedford Fields Community Forest Garden are either edible, medicinal or useful in some way. Some of the edible perennial vegetables are unfamiliar and surprising – many commonly considered ‘weeds’, flowers, shoots, fungi, wild plants are perfectly edible and delicious. Most of the trees and shrubs in the gardens bear delicious fruits. You are welcome to harvest any time, being aware that the garden is relatively young and that it is for everyone to harvest from too. If you want to really understand the incredible harvest potential of the garden, let us show you, be it a workday or a foraging course!”
Leaf Street Forest Garden, Manchester
Started in 1999 from an initiative of the local Tenants’ Association it is currently maintained by a number of local volunteers. It is situated on a rectangular block of land between two parallel blocks of housing dating back to the 1940s. The street does not lead anywhere and this parcel of land had been unused and neglected. Despite deep shade, poor soil and pollution the garden is a resilient green space in the city, capable of withstanding times when volunteers are thin on the ground. The garden provides an open and accessible space for anyone to enjoy, an important wild life habitat in the city and it provides good, nutritious food that anyone can forage for.
Birchfields Park Forest Garden, Manchester
“Birchfields Park Forest Garden is an example of a new type of public space, actively managed by its users. Over the last decade the park’s Friends group have created a forest garden that has taught them as much about working with each other as it has about working with trees, bushes and herbs.”
This garden was started in 2007 by the Friends of Birchfield Park on an area that had previously been a formal rose garden.
“From the beginning Robert Hart’s vision was central to our group – the forest garden as a place of vegan organic production where people can live harmoniously as part of nature.”
With mixed plantings of fruit and nut trees, fruit bushes and edible groundcovers this has grown into a delightful, resilient and abundant green space and a haven for wildlife. Due to its situation in a public park the garden can be accessed and enjoyed by anyone all year round.
As well as this open access workshops for local groups have been held in the garden with a particular focus on children’s activities. There is a nature library with activity packs, toys, books and musical instruments. “The children seem to like these sessions a lot – you can see it in their faces.”