By Felipe Molina

Perennial food security from the ground up

The Food Forest Brum project is co-ordinated by Spring to Life, a Community Interest Company dedicated to developing personal and community well-being in Birmingham.

The project aims to address these various levels of well-being (and that of the planet) by working with communities all over the city and beyond, to establish permanent (perennial) edible landscapes, including community orchards and forest gardens. By growing food, planting trees and managing productive ecosystems, individuals and communities can connect with nature and become more self-reliant in their food supply. Meanwhile, the planet benefits from the increased numbers of trees and their associated ecosystems.

The project was initially funded by the Big Lottery and the Big Tree Plant enabling us to provide food trees, shrubs and perennial vegetables, free of charge to groups. These have ranged from community centres, friends of park groups, neighbourhood groups, schools, community gardens, and more. Through an additional grant from the Ronnie Bowker Trust we are providing relevant training in fruit tree pruning and grafting and forest gardening, also free of charge.

Perennial food growing not only involves less maintenance, but also contributes significantly to sustainability and resilience. It is better for wildlife and soil life, because once the crop is planted there is no need to dig year upon year. Soil life is preserved, and ecosystems can thrive. Being hardier, perennial plants are also less vulnerable to extreme weather patterns. Fruit and nut trees require especially low maintenance while providing a high yield relative to the area planted.

This year we will commence a project in the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, to develop a network of edible landscapes. The project aims to encourage healthy eating and promotes links between good food and good health. It will involve people from the hospital (staff, patients and volunteers), as well as the local community.

If you are interested in signing up your project to the Food Forest Brum network, or to get involved in any way, please get in touch with us. We also welcome donations of plants and cuttings which we can distributed to projects across the city.

Email or phone 07980272940