Volunteers help with Hertford Junior School forest garden

Hertford Junior School Forest Garden

Eight years ago, Stephen Gehrels led on designing and implementing a school grounds permaculture design at Hertford Junior School in Hollingdean, Brighton.

The design included a forest garden, shelter belts, edible plantings, a wildlife pond and outdoor learning areas.

This fantastic example of permaculture design in action has been used as venue for a number of our courses, including Forest gardening and Permaculture design course.

Read on for a description of a workday last week in the maturing forest garden.

"We had a great day with volunteers looking after the established forest garden at Hertford Junior School.

"The work was on all seven different layers of the forest garden. The prized spring crop of ground cover strawberries plants were thinned out and spread to a neighbouring bed. The herbaceous layer of artichokes and mint had their dried stems cut down for mulch. Some new shrub layer plants were planted, including a thornless gooseberry (Captivator) and a blackcurrant (Big Ben). In a few years, these early varieties will fruit in time for the children to eat before the summer holidays.

"The small tree layer got pruned, except for plums and other stone fruit, which are pruned later in summer to avoid disease. Hot water pipe insulation was wrapped around trunk of the canopy layer tall mulberry tree, where it was rubbing against the metal mesh of the chicken's run. One day soon, that tree will be raining mulberries on the chickens heads. I (and they?) can't wait!

"The climbers, including the grape and kiwi vines, got a hair cut, too, and were tied firmly into their trellis frame, as the last heavy winds did some damage.

"The last layer, the root or underground layer, was well fed with a lot of wood chip mulching.

"All in all, a great day. A big thank you to the Brightoning Lives Project crew for their help!"