For me it all began on a sunny weekend at the end of August this year. I had just handed in my final project for an environmental MSc at Warwick, and was in Devon for a Forest Gardening Course run by Martin Crawford at the Agroforestry Research Trust in Dartington. Throughout my degree and MSc, I had become increasingly interested in the (often conflicting) relationship between biodiversity and food production and started researching low input, diverse food production systems that worked with nature, rather than against it. I had also read Tony Juniper’s excellent book, ‘What has nature ever done for us?’, in which he mentions Martin Crawford and his work creating and developing a Forest Garden in Devon, now around 20 years old.
So, I booked myself a place on the Forest Gardening course, and when I arrived on the Friday afternoon, it was so exciting to meet so many like-minded individuals from all over the world. Given the distances some people had travelled to come to the course, how strange it was when I began talking to Carole, who told me she was hoping to set up her own accessible Forest Garden near Stratford-upon-Avon, about 25 minutes from where I live! We talked through her ideas for the Forest of Hearts over that weekend, and met up again at the site for the Forest of Hearts afterwards. I was really enthusiastic to be a part of this new and exciting project, and after learning a bit more about the aims for the Forest of Hearts (see http://forestofhearts.com/aims/), I accepted the role of environmental project manager.
In this role, I am currently researching and drawing up landscape plans for the Forest of Hearts Forest Garden. Having joined a Forest Garden project in the very early stages, I am very excited to see how it develops over the next few months and look forward to creating a magical, diverse and highly productive Forest Garden that will be visited and enjoyed for many, many years to come. Hannah Train