Forest Gardening / Food Forests Design Course


The overall aim of this 2½ day course is to give you an overview of how to design, implement and maintain a temperate forest garden or food forest.

(Coronavirus note: We have cancelled the May and July 2020 courses. The other 2020 courses are in doubt (we can’t run them if social distancing rules still apply) and we have suspended taking further bookings for them for the time being – hopefully some will still run. Please contact us to register interest for a 2020 course. You can still book for 2021 courses. If you are booked onto a 2020 course, but have to cancel because of virus/travel difficulties, you can postpone to a later course in 2020 or a course in 2021).

Course location: Dartington, Devon, UK.

Dates of the next courses are:


2020 2021
15-17 May 2020 (CANCELLED) 16-18 April 2021
3-5 July 2020 (CANCELLED) 7-9 May 2021
24-26 July 2020 (CANCELLED) 25-27 June 2021
28-30 August 2020 16-18 July 2021
18-20 September 2020 6-8 August 2021
27-29 August 2021
17-19 September 2021

Please select the course date you want in the menu below.

SKU: FG-0105150 Category:


Forest Gardening – Course Outline

Teaching sessions with leading expert and author Martin Crawford will be interspersed with frequent visits into our world famous forest garden (started 1994) and a visit to our new site with two young forest gardens.

Practical information on tree crops, shrub crops, perennials and ground covers will be complemented with visits to our forest garden to look at our successes and failures, as well as to taste unusual leaf and fruit crops. See below for some of the endorsements we’ve had.

The course will run 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm on friday, 9.30-5.00 on Saturday & 9.30-4.30 on Sunday.

Course fees – £240 (non-residential) includes sat/sun lunches (vegetarian) + teas/coffees etc.

Reduced rate places are sometimes available if you are low waged / unwaged – please enquire

“Just wanted to say thanks for running such a great course. I feel as though lots of my questions have been answered and I’m really excited to start work on my own forest garden now. Your work is truly inspiring. “   AW, UK

“Many thanks once again for a wonderful course the other week. I learned a great deal and felt very energised and full of ideas upon my return” JH, UK

“Thank you again for the wonderful course in forest gardening. I went home inspired and with the maximum of useful practical information.”  SW, Germany

“Just a quick note to say thanks so much for an excellent weekend. We learned so much and its really helped us to clarify the direction we want to go in with the land here.”  NR, UK

“Thank you for a couple of very interesting days in Dartington. It was truly worth coming all the way from Denmark to learn from you and see your beautiful sites.”  LM, Denmark

“Thank you for a truly wonderful weekend. I left feeling very inspired and encouraged.” EG, UK

“I would like to say thanks for the forest garden course. It was very inspiring, stimulating, informative and fruitful.” AG, Denmark.


Topics covered in the course include:


  • First principles – natural forests – definition – growth layers
  • Why Forest Gardening – benefits
  • Succession


  • Design principles – questions – initial stages – collecting info
  • Combining everything
  • Design of clearings
  • Design of edges – edge features – light (PAR) – types of edge – types of plants
  • Design of hedges
  • Design of paths
  • Design of ground covers – functions – types


  • Preparation – converting grass to ground cover
  • Planting
  • Mulches – mulch types
  • Seasonal maintenance
  • Growing your own plants


  • Species for clearings
  • Species for edges
  • Species for hedges
  • Tree crops
  • Shrub crops
  • Climbers
  • Perennials
  • Perennial leaf crops
  • Species for ground covers – paths – clearings – polycultures
  • Annuals & biennials
  • Root & bulb crops
  • Fungi – below ground – above ground
  • Plants for difficult sites

More information

You will be sent further course details and directions when you book.

If the course you are interested in is full and you are able to attend at short notice, please email us and we can put you on a reserve list in case of a cancellation.

If you want to purchase any books, seeds or plants when you are on the course, please let us know 2 weeks beforehand so that we can get them ready for you.

Food on the course

  • A large selection of coffee, teas, herb teas, cows and soya milk, juice available throughout the day
  • We provide a ‘help yourself’ buffet-style lunch.
  • We support organic and local as much as we can.
  • All the food is vegetarian – there will be 2 grain-based salads eg rice, quinoa, millet + a green salad each day.
  • There will be local bread, ricecakes, oatcakes, nut butters, homemade jams and chutneys, homemade lentil and chestnut pate
  • A selection of local cheese.
  • Fresh fruit in season.
  • Apart from the local cheese board, all food is suitable for vegans.
  • There is a range of gluten-free dishes to choose
  • Please note some salads contain nuts and food is prepared in a kitchen where food containing gluten is prepared.


Cancellation policy

Because of the big demand for our courses – and because we rely as a small charity on the income to survive – we have to apply this policy strictly. (Note that the 2020 Symposium has a different cancellation policy)

In the event of the course being cancelled you will be completely refunded course fees. We cannot be held responsible for any other fees or costs.

In the event of you cancelling your place:

  • prior to 6 weeks before the course you will get a full refund*;
  • 2-6 weeks before the course you will get a 50% refund*, unless we can refill your place in which case you will get an 80% refund*;
  • less than 2 weeks before the course and you will not be due a refund unless we can refill the place, in which case you will get an 80% refund*.

*  refunds to non-UK bank accounts will incur a fee of £15.00 which we have to pass on.

If you wish to change your booking to another date, assuming there is room, there may be a rebooking fee of £20, and/or an extra fee if delayed until the next year when course fees have increased.

Additional information


15 -17 May 2020, 3-5 July 2020, 24-26 July 2020, 28-30 August 2020, 18-20 September 2020, 16-18 April 2021, 7-9 May 2021, 25-27 June 2021, 16-18 July 2021, 6-8 August 2021, 27-29 August 2021, 17-19 September 2021