Project: Edible Landscapes

Forest gardening and outdoor education in North London

Edible Landscapes CIC is a forest gardening and community education project led by a team of permaculturists. They strive to educate visitors and volunteers on the broad - and often unknown - range of edible plants, fruits, herbs and vegetables that can be grown in the capital.

The Edible Landscapes garden in Finsbury Park, North London, was set up in 2010 to increase community resilience to the effects of climate change and is grown in the style of forest gardening. This is a food growing design system that mimics natural ecosystems, involving a variety of perennial plants and trees. Forest gardens are low-maintenance, multi-layered food growing systems, based on woodland ecosystems. Plants selected within a space serve a number of functions, useful to each other as well as humans and wildlife. Edible Landscapes educates others on how these plants are vital for human and ecological health, delivering this work with communities, schools, likeminded organisations and university students.

This space for nature and community engagement is much-needed in the area. Approximately 40% of the local community do not have gardens and local schools have limited or no access to outdoor/nature learning. The surrounding wards of Edible Landscapes experience high levels of poverty, obesity, drug use and knife crime.

Edible Landscapes identified a gap in after-school services for school years 7-9 and with support from the Foundation, will create the ‘Nature Protectors’ after-school club. Having previously worked with numerous school groups, the team have seen that outdoor learning can engage students who learn in a different way to the fixed school curriculum. Young people joining the after-school club will benefit from practical and creative learning, which will be led by their own interests and play to their strengths. This style of learning can help to improve self-esteem, emotional regulation, and reduce anxiety.

The after-school club will also educate the next generation on the importance of nature protection, localising food systems, combating climate change, and lowering our carbon footprint. This education is often missing in school curriculum's and has resulted in a lack of awareness of the natural world, along with a growing skills-gap within the environmental sector. Whilst many young people will be joining the programme to gain a new hobby or make new friends, Edible Landscapes will also promote the opportunities to be had within green careers.

The after-school club will engage experts from various fields such as soil science, mycology, and tree grafting, aiming to inspire the group in what they have learned and to inform them of the range of career prospects in these areas. The experts will provide further voluntary opportunities, career advice and useful connections to build on the practical skills and knowledge gained at the after-school club. Edible Landscapes will track the progress of each young person to demonstrate how the programme can support well-being and create career pathways.

The Foundation has provided a two-year grant towards the ‘Nature Protectors’ after-school club, and will support Edible Landscapes in evidencing and monitoring the impact of this work.

Edible Landscapes
Edible Landscapes