Food Forest Brum
Working with communities to create permanent food landscapes, where all people can access fresh food in their open spaces
What we are doing:
- Establishing permanent food landscapes with local communities
We provide a range of perennial edible plants free of charge to local groups in Birmingham and surrounding areas . This can range from fruit and nut trees trees, soft fruit shrubs, herbs and perennial vegetables. These will go in a range of settings such as community orchards, edible hedges, forest gardens, as well as to be planted individually or for complementing annual vegetable growing. We have supported a range of projects and groups to create more of these landscapes.
The aim is to develop food security, whereby our food supply will be local and sustainable, so that despite environmental, economic and other conditions, we will always have a reliable supply of food. Communities will not only be doing something for themselves but also for future generations and the planet.
- Skilling-up and skillsharing.
We provide relevant support and training for establishing and maintaining these landscapes to the local groups involved in creating them. Workshops we have run have included fruit tree pruning, grafting, plant propagation, forest gardening, permaculture, as well as a tree planting masterclass. We have also organised a skills-share gathering in partnership with Birmingham and Sandwell permaculture group with a broader theme of sustainable living and health.
- Building connections and networks.
We create opportunities for groups to come together, connect and share, through events and workshops. We are developing a network of groups across the city and beyond. We also run trips and ‘garden safaris’ to food growing projects. We create opportunities for people to meet each other, get inspired and share ideas. We are developing a range of different partnerships with both local and pan-city organisations and projects, which are doing great work for people and planet. Food Forest Brum itself (and Spring to Life) is part of an exciting wider network of projects and network of networks. So as we all become more connected, we make tangible the living web that we are all part of and promote sustainability through life style choices and community action.
Food Forest Brum supports and works with a range of groups, including: friends of parks groups, community gardens, community centres, neighbourhood groups, schools, colleges, faith groups, allotment groups, NHS sites, essentially most places where there is a group of people coming together for a common goal.
Our strategies for maximising community wellbeing and sustainability:
Mother gardens: Mother gardens project emerged out of Food Forest Brum, as a method for local food groups themselves to grow, share and receive plants. Mother gardens may allocate nursery beds for propagation on their site, or simply by dig up and share surplus plants that have spread and multiplied. Therefore any group or individual can sign up as a Mother garden regardless of the level of expertise or time available. Plants are then shared to groups and individuals in their local areas or with other Mother gardens across the region. The sharing process makes available the range of useful plants to as many people as possible, and enables the building of links and mutual support. We are also linking up with community seedbanks for the sharing of seeds.
We are developing a network of Mother gardens in Birmingham and beyond, recognising that each project may have something unique to contribute to the whole network (and may have something they need or lack). This in time will extend beyond plants, to other resources and skills, relevant to personal, community and planetary wellbeing. Please get in touch if you as an individual or as part of a group are interested in signing up as a Mother garden in order to share and receive useful plants (be it edible, medicinal, good for wildlife, or with other benefits for low impact living). Please note that even though Food Forest Brum’s main remit is the establishment of perennial food plants, within the Mother gardens project we also encourage the sharing of annual vegetable plants, as every spring there is abundance plants.
Resilient crops: We promote the planting of food plants and varieties that are hardy to a range of conditions such as drought, water-logging, frost, etc. We promote and primarily distribute perennial plants, which are generally more resilient than annuals. However we are also keen to explore unusual annual edibles, self-seeding plants. We also promote the cultivation and propagation of heritage varieties of vegetables and fruit, and for this we are working with two community seedbanks (Sandwell and Birmingham permaculture group seedbank and Gaia seedbank).
Food and health: There is a universe of plants and plant combinations with huge benefits to people’s health. By getting communities to grow and share many of these plants, and then bringing in practitioners with relevant expertise to share their knowledge, we aim to maximise the number of people benefiting from what nature has to offer.
Working in Harmony with nature: We encourage our groups to work with nature, growing edible plants and supporting wildlife as part of an ecosystem. We promote supportive approaches such as organic gardening, permaculture, and forest gardening.
Here are key organisations we are partnering up with:
Sandwell and Birmingham Permaculture group – http://sabpermaculturegroup.weebly.com/
Gaia seedbank Pacha Albaida – natural skincare business Countershade – http://countershade.org/
Kingstanding Food Community (and Birmingham Forest Schools) – http://www.forestschoolsbirmingham.com/
Lets Grow together – http://letsgrowtogether.org.uk/
Gro-organic – http://gro-organic.co.uk/
Earth Market –
Aside from these, below is a list of groups who have signed up as Mother Gardens within and around Birmingham:
Kushinga Community Garden Growing Schools (Kings Heath hub Ranger service)
Masefield Community Garden
Newlands Bishop Farm
Bluebell Community garden
Castle Vale Allotments (with Castle Vale Community Environment Trust)
Bournville College (at Kings Heath Park)
Kingstanding Food Community
Birmingham Metropolitan College (at Botanical Gardens)
Highbury orchard community
Back of Beyond (animal sanctuary)
Brandwood & Cocksmoor SHS
In addition to this we have a number of private Mother gardens who are growing, propagating and sharing plants, and a larger network of groups signed up to Food Forest Brum.
How to get involved
– Volunteer with Food Forest Brum. You can either give practical hands-on help at sites or volunteer with indoor work such as publicity, plant ordering, coordination, etc. You can also volunteer at a specific Mother Garden in your area.
– Sign up your project. Benefit from free plants, learn and share skills, and be part of a grassroots food network.
– Share your plants for the benefit of local communities.
– Donate money to Food Forest Brum to be able to reach more communities and to help develop more abundant landscapes.
Contact us to sign up or volunteer
phone 07980272940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org