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Runach Arainn, Isle of Arran

The Story of our Food Forest Garden

It all began with a love of trees, food and a desire for a productive food garden that did not take too much work!

New Heading to introduce the Story

Forest gardening seemed the obvious answer and a natural step from our knowledge and interest in permaculture. We had about half an acre alongside our eco-glamping site and also wanted to demonstrate green living and growing options to visitors so the two paired well together. As a family business we worked on the site together and fortunately the glamping has been able to help finance the garden.

From our existing knowledge and after loads of research from books and on the web, site observations and lots and lots of drafts on scraps of paper, the design became firmed up and planting began. I am always far too keen to start planting and had to be reigned in a bit, but getting the main structure set allowed larger tree planting to start and it has developed and literally grown from there.

Not everything worked and as with everything in gardening you have to be flexible, to see what works on your site. Arran is wet and windy so the full implications of that for the planting – despite careful observations and initial planning, became clearer over the years and through the storms! Some trees especially needed more protection, different locations or did not thrive well. We are getting there with the sweet chestnuts but they seemed to take a while to establish. The Black Locust trees are now doing well but are liable to snapping if too exposed. There is not much research on forest gardening in Scotland and especially on the wet & windy West Coast, so it is a learning process, where being both adventurous and pragmatic about failures are essential! One recent positive is that the Honey Berries have finally decided to fruit – 5 years in. We also have reliable staples such as currants, which do brilliantly here and provide jellies, juices, pies and liqueurs to see us through the winter.