5 Acre Forest Garden for Cardigan
Good news the Welsh Government has carried out a community asset transfer of 5 acres of land to Naturewise Community Forest Garden CIC for a new project. There will be a new community food growing project in Cardigan created by local people which will provide food that is free of chemicals and a wonderful environment to learn, play and connect to nature. We are planting a new forest garden. In the garden we have built a beautiful building that can be used by groups. Over the coming months there will be opportunities to be involved in putting your ideas forward for how the garden can be used and this year we will begin planting and you can be involved in all of this.
You are invited to get involved.
Forest gardens are sustainable, edible and biodiverse landscapes designed to work like the natural structure of woods with their tree, shrub and herb associations. By utilising the many levels that are apparent in a natural woodland system with o taller fruit and nut trees: like sweet chestnut, walnut, lime, o smaller trees like pear, plum, apple, hazel o fruit bushes like worcesterberry, choke berry, jostaberry, black and white currants, raspberries, o climbers like: grape, kiwi, hops, logan berry, tayberry, o ground cover like: strawberry, herbs, yarrow, fennel, mints, sage, tansy, rosemary, comfrey other plants that gather naturally like plantain, herb robert, campion, stitchwort, etc.
We created and successfully ran a community forest garden near Cardigan for ten years which came to an end in 2017. During the 10 years many hundreds of children and volunteers were involved by: working, planting, picking, learning and playing in the garden. The old land was bought by a new land lord and unfortunately came to an end.
We began to look around for a new site and saw the land at Parc Teifi. We made contact with the Welsh Government and they were impressed with our work and achievements over the last 30 years with communities in London and in the last 15 years in West Wales.
Much of the work was achieved through a huge volunteer commitment and funded primarily through the Eco Shop and kind donations from local businesses in Cardigan. After writing a proposal for a community asset transfer in June 2017, we were given the keys to the new site at Parc Teifi in February 2019. In order to receive the land we put in place a community interest company CIC. This is a community benefit company that will keep the land secure indefinitely for the benefit of the community and environment. We felt it was time to invest in a project that would have a safe and secure future.
The Eco shop
The Eco shop was set up in 2010 in Cardigan which successfully operates today and is kept open 10am-5pm, six days a week by a dedicated bunch of volunteers. The money the shop makes has funded all the work at the new forest garden site thus far.
In order to create a forest garden that was going to be accessible to as many people as possible it needed to be within walking distance of the schools and town centre. The land is only a short walk from the centre of Cardigan and there is pedestrian access through the Teifi Business Park. Local people will be able to volunteer at the project and benefit from having free, fresh wholesome fruit and herbs.
This project aims to
Acquire land for the use of the community to have access to food growing. It’s important that we have a resilient, secure, local food source and increase the biodiversity of the local environment. People will have the opportunity to learn through hands on experience how to plant and look after trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers and experience the unique benefits of growing food using the forest garden structure with its canopy, shrub and herb layers and climbers.
The garden will be an example of good practise about how to grow food and look after our precious environment and insect and animal world. It will help build a caring attitude to the environment. It will increase skills that will empower local people and by developing skills people will be enabled to look after the site. It will provide educational opportunities through involvement with the forest garden.
Children and young people will experience and learn skills to contribute to a food growing project. They will experience being in what will be a beautiful nature rich biodiverse environment and be able to eat food directly from the tree and fruit bush. The aim of this would be to: reconnect children to the environment, increase confidence in being in nature, develop their understanding and care for the land, open opportunities for rural employment. There will be an opportunity to teach the subjects of the curriculum through the garden environment, as well as offer forest schooling. Other courses in permaculture design and ethics, willow structure and sculpture making, pond making, tree care can take place.
Well-being of Future Generations Act Our project has obvious and significant social, ecological, and economic value and contributes towards a number of Welsh Government’s Wellbeing Goals from the Well-being of Future Generations Act particularly; A resilient Wales, A Wales of cohesive communities, A more equal Wales, A healthier Wales and a prosperous Wales. We will be holding public events to involve as many people as possible in the creation of this exciting new project. How this project will improve services and build on local provision The new project is now owned and run as a community interest company. This will enable community groups to build and establish long term relationships with the forest garden.
We intend to do a business feasibility study that will look at the kinds of enterprises that can come out of this project, with a focus on training young people for employment in these enterprises. Fruit production can be used for chutneys, jams, vinegar, wine, herb infusions, herb/ wild flower salves, teas, dried fruit, fruit bars. Fruit could also be sold outright to other producers like cider makers for example. There are many ways to generate an income which can be fed back into the project. Developing a tree and plant nursery is something we will do.
Welsh language Half of the volunteers at the Eco shop are local and speak Welsh. To ensure that Welsh speakers are encouraged to participate in this project, we will produce bilingual publicity in Welsh as well as English. Welsh speaking volunteers are eager to give advice and direction as to how to reach out to the local community who speak Welsh as well as promote the use of Welsh at the garden. All the schools speak Welsh as a first language and will be involved from the outset. Any signs will be in Welsh and the face book page will have a section in Welsh.
Some of the work undertaken will be through volunteer input and our aim is to engage enough community projects / organisations to commit to some of the work in order to keep up the maintenance of the site. The forest garden could become a part of the local curriculum of activity and needs where groups can do their learning, well -being, group development, education, play development, nature awareness on the site.
We do have a lot of support from many people in the community who themselves run businesses and hold significant expertise that we can call upon through their work as: solicitors, lawyers, teachers, weavers, coppice workers, community garden project workers, sustainability educators, also CAVO, PAVS, a Community Land Advisor, as well as the permaculture association and Forest school association of which we are members.