Forest gardening workshop 3 September 2022



Saturday 3 September 2022  10 am to 4pm

Venue: St Brides Farmhouse, Stanton Hill (A514), near Stanton by Bridge, Derbyshire, DE73 7NF (morning) and Whistlewood Common, Melbourne (afternoon)

What is a forest garden?

Forest gardens (also known as food forests or agroforestry) are modelled on natural woodland with a diversity of mostly-perennial plants meeting a variety of human and non-human needs – such as food, craft materials, timber, medicines, dye materials, food for pollinators and more…

They can be large or small, and by redesigning a small space you can create a low-maintenance, ecological space that is productive for you and your family (and beautiful too).

What will I learn?

In the morning session you will learn

  • what is a forest garden
  • some examples – large and small
  • what is permaculture
  • the seven layers of a forest garden
  • forest garden design
  • designing in fertility and low-maintenance
  • plant choice
  • how and when to plant
  • maintenance, pests and diseases
  • signposting to further resources

In the morning we will tour Sarah’s forest garden at St Brides, established in 2011 as part of her permaculture design for her smallholding.  We will look at how the forest garden compares to other areas such as the orchard and organic vegetable beds and look at which species she chose and why.

In the afternoon we will head to Whistlewood Common,  to look at their design and early-stage forest garden and carry out practical tasks on the site, whilst learning about permaculture and forest gardening. There will be plenty of time for Q and A.

Whistlewood Common is a ten-acre community-owned woodland social enterprise in Melbourne, designed using permaculture ethics and principles. It has a straw-bale eco roundhouse, community garden, forest school and play area, and woodland planting.

What should I bring?

  • suitable clothes
  • strong shoes
  • gardening gloves (although we can also provide these if you haven’t already got your own)
  • a notebook, pencil and pen
  • a packed lunch.   We will provide refreshments.

Accessibility and additional needs: We aim to make all our courses as accessible as possible – please let us know if you have any additional needs that you would like us to know about. There is the option of walking or driving/lift-sharing between the two sites depending on your energy levels.  There will be a variety of different tasks in the afternoon to suit different physical abilities.

The Whistlewood roundhouse and toilets are accessible by wheelchair.  St Brides toilets are not wheelchair accessible (sorry we have an ancient house), but we can provide a wheelchair accessible toilet space on request.  The forest gardens at both sites are on rough terrain.


Sarah Spencer is a permaculture designer and holder of a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.  She has designed her own smallholding and was the lead designer for Whistlewood Common and Melbourne Schools food forest.  She is founder of Think like a Tree supporting people in how to use natural principles for our own health and wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the world.

Samantha Woods of Seed of the Forest will also be present throughout the day to answer your questions on Permaculture and forest gardening.  Sam is a permaculture designer, teacher and diploma tutor and lives in Leicester.

Getting to St Brides

Car: Please lift-share where possible.    Look for the sign on the road that says St Brides.  Come down the drive and take a left turn to The Farmhouse.

Bus: The site is served by the number 2 Bus between Derby and Swadlincote (get off at The Common and walk 15 minutes along the Shepherd’s Lane footpath).

Cost:  £50






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