Last year saw more exciting projects and seedling developments @Forestharvest.
At The Mill and this year at our offspring Community garden, Dovehouse, we are continuing to experiment with Perennial edibles and ‘No Dig methods’, fuelled by our visit to Nottingham to hear Charles Dowding and our own research into the work of Anni Kelsey, Alys Fowler and supported by the increasing number of small suppliers of perennial vegetable plants and seeds in the UK. So far our results are interesting and fruitful. You can see some of the results below.
At Sheffield University Helen, trustee, has finished her lab work and is researching an urban anaerobic digestion system which will require charity partnerships.
Continuing Professional Development for trustees
A number of the trustees also attended and visited talks, workshops and networked with other projects to support our work at The Mill and our community work at Dovehouse.
In March we visited a beautiful Permaculture Garden in Leicestershire, with an incredible polytunnel packed with edibles and very healthy looking plants, even in March. Later in the day we attended a talk by the ‘No Dig’ guru Charles Dowling, hosted by Nottingham Organic Gardeners in Nottingham which was also both fascinating and inspiring.
In May we attended ‘Growing edibles with hydroponics’ by Sue Tonks at The Eco Centre in Uttoxeter. A great little venue and good demonstration which inspired Nick to create his ‘Tower of Babel’. A recycled car roof pod collects grey water, timed to feed plants at intervals using gravity and a float valve. It also incorporates a fifty percent transparent solar panel which provides a greenhouse effect for the plants and light to work by.
The ‘Tower’ was demonstrated at The Fuse community festival in Lichfield and at St Michaels Church for the RHS Britain in Bloom judges who gave it a high recommendation.
We also visited other local ventures Woodhouse Farm and Community Supported Agriculture project and a newly planted wood and Community garden in nearby village of Yoxall both valuable networking opportunities.
Work in the Community
Forest Harvest continued to work closely with other projects involved in the RHS scheme Britain in Bloom, resulting in another RHS Gold medal. The development of a two acre natural meadow in The Festival Gardens, Lichfield, without the use of weed killers, was one of the aspects of our consultations.
Around one million viewers, as well as a group of organisers and volunteers, watched the television programme Britain in Bloom, filmed in Lichfield during our bid for Gold in 2018, screened in April 2019. It was great fun to film and watch, surprising amounts of people recognised various trustees who appeared on the screen!
As our projects have become more widely known we have received donations of a polytunnel and greenhouse for use at Dovehouse Community Garden and an octagonal greenhouse and a Hotbin for use at Woodmill.
Last year saw the successful demonstration of Forest Harvest’s home crafted Coracles at the Alrewas Arts Festival. This year the Alrewas Scouts paddled the coracles down the mill stream, quickly honing their paddling skills.
A successful application to the South Staffordshire Community Energy fund resulted in £1000 to further assess and develop alternative technology projects at Forest Harvest, including solar panels, hydroponics and aquaponics.
Lichfield BID contributed £3200 for planters at the many road entrances to Lichfield City and sales of our Woodmill honey, plants and hand produced items continued to be a source of income at festivals and open days.
Courses and workshops, a fundamental part of our philosophy, were limited this year due to the exciting, but frustratingly slow, building developments at The Mill.
However, later in the year, the beautiful new space upstairs hosted A Bee Awareness course and subsequently our, now annual, Winter Solstice Wreath making workshop.
New building developments have created a new large, light- filled upstairs space, suitable for many indoor activities and occasions. Balconies open out at both ends, which provide viewing platforms enabling observations of the woodland canopy, the glade highway and the forest garden at the other end. Bats, butterflies, dragonflies (one observed catching a white butterfly), Nuthatches, Treecreepers as well as numerous other bird species have all been observed from here so far.
A wind turbine and solar panels have also been added to the buiding supporting our commitment to new technology for sustainable living.
A fantastic new greenhouse is now fully functioning and will provide us with greater potential to extend our growing season.
The field next door has been purchased to create a meadow, a small coppice of fruit and native trees and space to erect a large polytunnel to allow more planting and growing opportunities.
Building work continues to create a fully sealed and functioning kitchen as well as a new, more accessible staircase.
In the forest garden we will continue to develop our perennial planting and watch out for the latest design ideas for the orchard and pond area.
2020 will see regular open days. The last Saturday of every month The Mill will welcome visitors to enjoy tours, tea, cakes and short workshops, more details to be announced very soon.