Research reports

Forest garden baseline survey

Analysis of 130 temperate forest garden sites across the UK, Northern America and Europe, The survey was carried out in Summer 2013, the report was first published in November 2014 on the Permaculture Association's website. Information about location and age of existing forest gardens, their owners' goals and achievements, the most common species and maintenance isues and what resources people have gathered.

The full dataset of this and two other surveys is available on request, with 244 sites in total. A journal article for peer reviewed publication is in progress.

Download here


Ten-year participatory trial

This 10-year trial started in 2011 and involves ten sites in the UK. The purpose is twofold: to learn about forest gardens, and to learn about participatory research. The Year 3 and Year 5 progress reports are available here.

We are currently in the process of carrying out the final review of the trials and will publish our findings at the end of this year.

You can download the reports for Year 3 and 5 here.


Robert Hart's forest garden - a review

A report co-written with Jon Kean from Shropshire and Edges Permaculture Network (SEPNet), based on two site visits in 2017. A small group of experienced forest gardeners was granted access to Robert Hart's pioneerign site. We followed up with additional research and put together this report of our observations and reflections.

Robert Hart revisited


Sounds and Vision

Real-life food forests

Presentation at Coventry University's agroecology centre CAWR. The one-hour talk describes the potential of forest gardens as high-yielding, biodiverse and socially vibrant spaces, highlights future opportunities and challenges and explores the relationship between forest garden practice and agroecological theory. It also includes a discussion of the relationship between agroecological theory and forest garden practice.

Interview: Lessons from 30 years of forest gardening

Recently I did a 30-minute interview with permaculture podcaster Daniel Tyrkiel. We covered a lot of ground, and it gives you a good overview of the research I have tried to compress into this book. The interview is now available on Daniel's website, just as the book is going to print.

In Daniel's own words,

"Forest gardens - yes, we've heard it all before, right? Wrong. It's just beginning. Only now we're beginning to see examples of consciously designed, multi-layer assemblies well into establishment. Tomas has spent the past few years contacting, cataloging, and recording temperate climate forest gardens around the world. This research project was done with the help and blessing of the UK Permaculture Association, and has resulted in a book (coming out this month!). This book is set to be the most up to date resource, with real life examples of what works, in multiple scales. It will feature an ecology primer, the case studies, and a step by step guide to making your own. In addition to dry information, the book has been filled with high quality images of what Tomas has found during his research."

Listen to the podcast here.


The Guilds of a forest garden - video series

In May 2020, I gave a presentation on the permaculture concept of guilds applied to forest gardening, as part of a series of free webinars hosted by the National Forest Gardening Scheme. Here it is uploaded in three parts for easier consumption. My aim was to familiarise people with the underlying ecological concepts, and to show a few examples how these ideas can be put into practice. As highlighted in part 2, it is less about finding some magic plant combinations that always work, but more about undertsanding what works in your place and for your needs.

Part 1: The Ecology behind Guilds


Part 2: Designed Guilds in the Forest Garden

Part 3: Questions & Answers

This video also contains the whole part 2 of the slide show (though delivered differently). If you want to skip this part you can fast forward from 3:40 mins to 17:45 mins.


Successful Commercial Polycultures

In my presentation on Successful Commercial Polycultures at this year's Oxford Real Farming Conference, I presented several case studies of growers who manage to make multi-layer crop systems work. I tried to draw out lessons for aspiring polyculture growers. and highlight factors that are pre-conditions for successful growing of polycultures. Multi-species cropping systems are not new on our farms, but through good design we can make them work even better for farmers and the landscape as a whole.

View slide show here

Read the report here

Resource sheets

Yield record sheet


Useful Links

The Open Food network

OFN UK is a Platform Cooperative - a part of the Solidarity or Sharing Economy. The OFN UK team have been working since 2014 to extend to OFN software, adding the features UK Food Hubs need. In January 2016 the team secured funding for a national roll out. OFN UK is now a fast-growing co-operative of producers and food enterprises across the UK. Taking part is simple, and much fairer than in the supermarket  - whether you are a producer or shopper.