The observation stage of the forest garden pathway continued for over a year before the first designs were put on paper and the idea of planting an orchard and then a forest garden had been around for many years for this particular site in Hoathly Hill Community. When my partner and I went to chat about creating a forest garden at Hoathly Hill with our new neighbour and fellow community member, permaculture designer and teacher, Steve Charter, we found he already had a design for a forest garden up his sleeve and had previously negotiated with Hoathly Hill Trust, who owned the lease for a paddock of half an acre next to the community allotments.

Soon after, Simon C-M, who had also done a permaculture design course and had experience managing woodland, and Lucy and Simon L, theatre professionals, and Jolanta, Steiner teacher, joined together with us to form the forest garden group. We have another two community members entering the group, Maria and James. The children are always welcome and often in the forest garden at events and just playing. We aim to work together as a group and engage the community in this initiative.

We thus had different aspects of observation to carry out as summarised in the mindmap below.

The ‘base maps’ I worked on for my diploma as a whole contributed to the observations for the forest garden design, in particular the ‘base map’ observations of community life.

The forest garden design could be separated into two designs: a people-based design and a land-based design. I wanted to focus on integration of the two, rather than separation, as a principle and made this one design with these two aspects.