Community Forest Garden – Decisions

Community Forest Garden – Decisions


Mollison’s Principles

  • The problem is the solution
  • Work with nature rather than against
  • Make the least change for the greatest possible effect
  • The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited
  • Everything gardens (or modifies its environment)

Ethics Considered – Earth Care (EC), Fair Share (FS), People Care (PC)

The problem is the solutionShade: Plant appropriate plants for the location (EC); Perfect conditions to farm fungi (PC/FS); Trees provide materials & mulch (EC)
Wet: Frogs are abundant, and act as pest control (EC); Use appropriate plants and planting techniques (EC); Minimal irrigation needed (EC); Add paths to keep people from churning up site (EC/PC); Collecting & using rainwater will help a little (EC/PC)
Abundant Brambles & brash: Use these to form a brash hedge (EC)
Site looks unused & is prone to littering: Clear & informative signage (PC/FS); Make site look beautiful, add flowers & paths (PC/FS/EC)
Work with nature rather than against itKeep native plants on site & incorporate them into the design (EC)
Use appropriate plants for the conditions (EC)
Take advantage of the sunlight (EC/PC)
Keep water in the ground to reduce need for irrigation, but use appropriate plants or planting techniques. This also keeps the frogs happy. (EC)
Mulch plants to feed the soil. (EC)
Keep photographic/film records of progress. Nature moves slowly & humans forget quickly. By recording we will better understand our impact. (EC/FS/PC)
Use natural materials for paths that will eventually add to soil fertility. (EC/PC)
Make the least change for the greatest possible effectMake small and simple changes first. (PC)
Identify which small changes will have greatest impact and prioritise these. (PC/EC)
Record what effects changes have had (FS/PC/EC)
Identify which native plants on the site can be foraged for food (or other purposes) (PC/EC)
Include native plants in harvesting signage/guides (PC/EC/FS)
Increase seclusion of compost bays to enable them to be used as urinals (PC/EC)
The yield of a system is theoretically unlimitedIdentify and inform about physical yields from plants. e.g. what is edible & when to harvest (PC/EC/FS)
Having a space to sit, observe & discuss will increase our knowlegde (PC/FS/EC)
Save seeds & take cuttings (FS/EC/PC)
Celebrate the harvests (FS/PC)
Share preserving & cooking skills (FS/PC)
Record harvests (PC/FS)
Include aesthetics in the design (PC/FS)
Everything gardens or modifies its environmentLarge trees provide mulch, shade &, wood and absorb water; they provide the perfect conditions to grow Mushrooms (EC/PC)
Climbing plants add vertical interest at eye level (PC/EC); A fence of climbers can provide food; security; beauty & biodiversity (EC/PC)
Wildlife: Frogs eat the slugs & flies; birds eat pests and distribute seeds & berries (EC/FS)
Plants: Grow in appropriate conditions – use as indicator species (EC/FS)
Volunteers: Manage the balance between cultivated plants and native plants; Make compost; Can build structures & paths; Spread knowledge (EC/PC/FS)
How the principles and ethics have guided the design

Plan of ‘The Design’

Canal Site Plan – Placement of Elements



Main paths have been included on the design. They will be constructed using cardboard and a deep layer of woodchip.

A gate will be built and will open outwards from the site. This will prevent accidental opening and offer a visual ‘open door’ invitation when we are working on site.


Different boundaries will use different materials. The decisions are base on what is already in place in some cases, and what will be cheapest and easiest to install in others.

North & West Boundary – Living fence constructed with living willow, birch twigs, raspberries, blackberries and bindweed

East Boundary – Brash hedge with blackberries woven over and through to add strength and ease of crop picking.

South Boundary – Wire (or Woven Willow) fence, with scented and edible climbers to add colour to the site.


The zones help define placement of elements withing the design.

Zone 1 – areas that are used most regularly – the focal points of the site.
Social areas, vegetable beds

Zone 2 – areas that need frequent attention
Perennial veg, areas surrounding social areas, newly planted fruit bushes, paths

Zone 3 – areas that are accessed infrequently, e.g. for seasonal harvests/maintenance
Fruit trees, paths, forage areas

Zone 4 – areas that need attention on a very infrequent basis
Living hedges, brash hedges, established wild fruit

Zone 5 – areas that can be left virtually undisturbed.
Deep shade, wild areas, log piles – purposeful habitat piles

Overlay showing different colours


Tippytap – Located close to the shelter. Rainwater can be collected from the shelter and stored to use for handwashing.

Screen the compost bays well, and they can then double up as urinals.


Without people, this project wouldn’t work. It makes sense to put the shelter at the heart of the site. There are trees there that we can use to form the uprights or to attach tarps. Until the site is better established, it makes from an ease and cost point of view to use tarpaulins as temporary shelter structures.

Attaching a rope or chain to the tarp would enable us to collect rainwater.


Due to the density of trees on site, it will be overly complex to design a site-wide planting plan. I will however, recommend plants for certain aspects and also design tree guilds/spacings to ensure access is available.

Potential plants & their favoured aspects & yields – Appendix 1.


A guild is a group of plants (or elements) that support each other through beneficial relationships. This can include companion planting. For this design I have devised 3 different guilds that take into account the three areas on the site. I have not included root crops due to potential ground contamination.

Fruit Tree Guild

Ground Cover – Wild Strawberries, Birds Foot Trefoil, Nasturtium, Welsh/Walking Onions

Pollinator/ Beneficial Insect Attractant – Nasturtium, Comfrey, Borage, Chicory, Cardoon, Angelica

Fruit Bushes – Currants, Jostaberry

Climber/Scrambler – Nasturtiums

Nitrogen Fixing – Lupins, Birds Foot Trefoil

Chop & Drop Mulch – Comfrey

Shade Guild

Ground Cover – Wild Strawberries, Violets, Wild Garlic, Bistort, Bugle, Golden Saxifrage, Solomons Seal

Fruit Bushes – Gooseberries, Bramble, Rasperries, Rhubarb

Pollinator/ Beneficial Insect Attractant – Mints, Lemon Balm, Mallows

Nitrogen Fixing – Eleagnus

Chop & Drop Mulch – Comfrey, Mint,

Shelter Area Guild

Ground Cover – Bistort, Golden Saxifrage, Camomile, Pink Purslane

Scent/Colour – Mints, Lemon Balm, Monarda, Calendula, Comfrey, Lovage, Angelica, fennel

Nitrogen Fixing – Lupins

Chop & Drop Mulch – Comfrey, Mint,

Next – Implementation.