The thing about permaculture forest gardens is that to a conventional gardener they look like a total mess: no lawns; no raised beds; no crop rotations; very few annual crops; and absolutely no neat drills of seedlings.
To the untrained eye, it seems as though someone has simply mown a pathway through a scrubby woodland.
A guide in a forest garden is an absolute must, and this is the beauty of A Forest Garden Year.
In this 50 minute film, forest garden expert Martin Crawford leads you on a tour of his remarkable plot, transformed from a plain field into a cornucopia of edible and functional plants. Built on the principle that a young forest ecosystem is in fact one of the most productive ecological environments on Earth, Crawford’s garden works with natural processes to produce an abundance of food with a minimum of effort.
But this is not just a spatial tour; it also runs through the year, introducing would-be forest gardeners to the spectacular annual productivity of this kind of growing.
Crawford is set to release a book on his garden next year, but the DVD offers opportunities that the printed page doesn’t – including a tour of his polytunnel and potting area, and a fantastic demonstration of the dark art of tree grafting – a vital skill for those interested managing or growing fruit trees.
The DVD isn’t perfect – Crawford isn’t a natural in front of the camera, and the production isn’t exactly slick, but these aren’t reasons not to watch. All gardeners, and everyone with an interest in food security, should see this film.
A Forest Garden Year, with Martin Crawford
Green Books, £14.95