More than 40 people travelled from far and wide giving time from their weekends to celebrate the launch of the National Forest Gardening Scheme.
A wonderful range of us attended, from forest garden pioneers to interested community groups, to the curious but uninitiated enthusiasts who could see the potential of these gardens for transforming our relationship with nature.
We met at the Linklater Pavilion on the Railway Land Wildlife Trust site in Lewes, the proud fruit of many years labour by one of our founding members Dr John Parry.
Tomas Remiarz, author of recently published ‘Forest Gardening in Practice’ said a few words about forest gardens and then the group itself then chose topics of interest and split up for some intensive smaller discussions.
A forest garden lunch followed prepared by Daphne Lambert of ‘Living Food’, a highly experienced nutritionist. She pointed out that just as forest gardens thrive on their diversity, so can we if we cultivate a similar diversity in our gut micro-organisms.
After lunch many in the group walked around the nature reserve and looked at the potential there for a forest garden.
The launch discussions provided excellent ideas for how the work of the National Forest Gardening Scheme (NFGS) could be focused:
- create template strategies for engaging communities and local authorities based on existing projects ‘out there’ as well as NFGS projects emerging such as with Ebbsfleet
- develop ‘key messages’ about forest gardens for people in power or influence
- provide example business cases that could attract funding for FG schemes, like from the NHS
- set up training pathways and certification schemes for future forest gardeners (eg NVQs, apprenticeships)
- access where possible funding from corporate CSR (corporate social responsibility) budgets
- become a trusted intermediary for local authorities
- galvanise schools to plant more forest gardens
- make the case for the creation of learning networks of these schools
- support schools to create a syllabus which could be taught largely outside by planting and observing a forest garden