A Forest Garden Year

“A Forest Garden Year” is a 49 minute documentary by Martin Crawford who runs his forest garden down in Devon in the UK. Readers familiar with Gardening programs on the TV will be comfortable with this format. Indeed the publisher – Green Books – often puts out highly worthy but wordy books on the topic. We have moaned in the past about how uninformative the books are as they lack colour, good pictures and explanatory diagrams. So the topic really needed putting on the small screen. Of course if gardening doesn’t really interest you on TV then maybe this isn’t for you but, for the rest of us, this is a gold-mine. You will learn far more about the topic of Forest Gardening from this than any book. However we should probably say “agroforestry” as the plot of land that Martin works is clearly VERY large. Far larger than most of us mere mortals have to work with. Martin started fifteen years ago after visiting the forest garden of pioneer Robert Hart. However he recognised that Robert had the disadvantage of such a small plot that his trees were too close together and didn’t yield well. Martin was an organic market-gardener but got out of it because it was too much hard work for too little financial reward. He still appears to run his agroforest as a commercial affair as he reveals that he is generating materials that he exports all around Europe. However we might guess he has some other form of income! Martin takes the viewer though an entire year in his garden showing us season-by-season what it takes and what it yields. We would probably pass the same criticism here that we make of the books – a lack of good clear explanatory diagrams or animations. We know that costs money but the BBC et al regularly make documentary series with much higher production values than this. It really makes you wonder why any mainstream broadcaster has not picked up on this yawning gap in the market? Bizarre. So the resulting DVD is good if not perfect. 49 minutes is probably not enough but it covers a remarkable amount of ground. There are all kinds of helpful tips and inspiration here. You will learn how to graft an apple tree to crop a different variety (or multiple varieties). You will see how to pollard and prune. We even get a glance as to the end of result of the labours in the form of jellies, drinks and jams. There is a follow-up book by Martin and Green Books “Creating a Forest Garden: perennial crops for a changing climate” out in the Spring of 2010. Just a final note about the sound quality – Martin doesn’t appear to be miked-up for any of the recording so we get a lot of background noise. We particularly like the regular intrusion of a steam whistle which seems so evocative.

Posted in DVDs, Food, Permaculture Tagged permalink

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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