Forest Garden Research

forest gardening

Forest gardens are multi-storey polycultures producing a great variety of yields including food, fuel, fibre, medicine, building materials and others.

Other benefits extend to biodiversity, water and soil retention, carbon storage, food self-reliance, education and social cohesion. We are researching forest gardens so we can find out how to optimise these benefits.

Field Trials

In 2009 the Association received funding to run a ten-year forest garden trial. Eleven projects that were in the process of setting up forest gardens were recruited.

Baseline data was collected and a small amount of funding provided to each project towards set-up costs. The research focussed on yields, which has been interpreted to include economic, social and bio-diversity yields as well as actual crops harvested.

Enough data has been gathered to enable more tightly focussed research questions to be framed, and to allow the development of a larger scale project with academic partners which involves more forest gardens. So far, three areas of particular interest have emerged and seems worthy of further study:

 ►  The ratio between energy put into the forest garden and the energy yield

 ►  Making a living from forest gardening

 ►  The potential of forest gardens in amenity horticulture

In order to undertake one or more of these research topics, we are looking for academic partners.

The year 3 report (2013) of the project is available via the link below.

5 year report

This report marks the half way point of that project. It reports on the progress of the forest gardens in the trial, and on what has been learned to date. Read it here.

Forest Garden Baseline survey

In 2013, Tomas Remiarz (in collaboration with the Association and Permanent Publications) undertook the first comprehensive survey of temperate forest gardens to establish a baseline for further research. Over 100 responses from across Europe and North America help us to see an emerging picture of the diversity of forest gardens today. The initial report of the survey is available via the link below. We are currently developing a second, improved version of the survey to add more sites and data over time.