Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two-Day Forest Gardening Course at Berington Hall

This is Berington Hall set in about twenty acres of land near Shrewsbury and home of the Crabapple Community - more about them on the Diggers and Dreamers website. The community is going well with eight adult and five child members but with room for more if you're interested. Nettie from the community got in touch with us asking if we would like to teach a Forest Garden course there, which we were delighted to do. The hall is a Georgian building and times were very different when it was built, it's an interesting challenge in itself to live there in the present day let alone the complexities of managing the land. The community have made a big investment in a giant wood fired heating system which has made living there much more comfortable but does use a lot of wood...

Some of the many tons of wood the new heating sytem uses. A clay book in a workshop in the stable block to the rear of the house.

The Forest Classroom, easy to observe the features of a forest at Berington.
With such a variety of land use around Berington Hall, there's everything from open meadow to mature woodland, it's an ideal place to observe and think about the processes of the forest, eg succession, stacking and the importance of the edges. We had a large group but with three key areas of interest: urban regeneration, education and the hall itself. On the second day we split the group into three workshops to duscuss these different areas. It was time well spent and brought up some good insights and experiences. For myself, I love the broad potential application of Forest Gardening and how the same principles can be applied on many different scales and in the city just as much as the countryside. I'm working on a separate page on this blog as a resource and networking link just for Forest Gardening. 

Steve talks about some of the plants that are at home in the forest and how they fit into the different layers of the system.

We had a long practical session on the second day with many trees, bushes, herbs as well as rooty and ground covery things to plant but with so many people working together we got loads done.
Many thanks to Nettie, Stewart, Nickie, Stewart, Jo, Paul, Martin and Clive for all their hospitality and a fascinating insight into communal living in a grand old house. Thanks to the kids too for the daffodils!

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