Fork 2 Fork is a home grown local forest gardening project in Lancaster has high hopes of changing lives for the better as well as setting the standard for food cultivation in the twenty first century. Features Writer Rob Bullock investigates what’s going on down in the woods today…
Most people probably haven’t heard of ‘forest gardening’, but it is really nothing new. Actually, it is quite an ancient method of cultivating food crops.
Forest gardens (which are often called home gardens) have been used for millennia in tropical regions where they still do, to this day. It can be a major part of the food producing systems which people rely on, even if they work elsewhere for much of the time.
INFINITE SOURCE OF NUTRITION
The reason why this type of horticulture is popular amongst the poorer parts of the world is because with forest gardening, the interdependent plants provide an infinite source of nutrition for each other to flourish, so the gardeners don’t have to.
“Compared to a standard allotment you get much more food per metre of space of food from your effort,” explains Robin Eyre from Lancaster’s Fork to Fork project.
For those readers who like technical explanations, a forest garden is a designed agronomic system based on trees, shrubs and perennial plants. These are mixed in such a way as to mimic the structure of a natural forest – which, naturally, is the most stable and sustainable type of plant ecosystem on the planet.
You only have to look at the rainforests to see that they’re full of life. “Instead of planting our leeks each year, we’ve got perennial ones, likewise with kale and rhubarb as well as a huge variety of fruit and nuts.
The food providing plants are balanced by other trees and plants that manage the soil, like Alder which puts nutrients like nitrogen into the Earth, so we don’t have to use fertilizer.”
HELPING ITS VOLUNTEERS TO GROW STRONG TOO
A forest is a cooperative system, with plants helping each other to grown strong., In the same way, Fork 2 Fork also helps its volunteers to grow strong through hard work, exercise, meaningful horticultural activity & support.
A UNIQUE PROJECT IN OUR AREA
Fork 2 Fork is a unique project in our area because it is free of charge and has no barriers to anyone joining in.
Absolutely anyone can go along, work in the beautiful outdoor space, learn about sustainable gardening and help create something beneficial for the community, the environment and themselves.
“Although horticultural therapy is not new,” explains Robin. “Fork 2 Fork is unique in this area. It is volunteer led and I’m just there to guide and advise.”
GROWING PEOPLE NOT JUST PLANTS – anyone is welcome at Fork 2 Fork.
“Fork 2 Fork is as much about growing people as growing food,” states Robin. “We’ve had some volunteers with us since we began and have a volunteer retention rate of over 60%.
Anyone can come along, people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, or people who just want to make a difference to their lives and the lives of others in the communities.
Some people struggle to get out of bed in a morning, with a project like this they’ve got a big incentive.”
INVALUABLE LOCAL SUPPORT
Although accepting direct donations and doing fundraising Fork 2 Fork is mainly supported by GB Antiques LTD Executive Pensions Scheme and Lancaster Brewery, “they have been with us from the start,” explains Robin proudly.
“They are totally to committed to Fork 2 Fork, our volunteers and everything the project stands for. We couldn’t have done this without them. They have been championing us since day one.”
For more information about Fork 2 Fork Lancaster… see us on facebook @ForktoForkProject To volunteer contact us through our Partner Piccadilly Support Services through [email protected] or 01524 847685