Forest Gardening / Food Forests Design Course


This course is a mixture of in-person teaching on our research sites over a weekend, plus online content in the form of videos and course lectures, and a design exercise with feedback. Overall you will get significantly more input than the previous Devon-based course.

The in-person Devon sessions are designed to concentrate on the design and implementation of forest gardens / food forests.

The overall aim of this course is to give you the confidence to design, implement and maintain a temperate forest garden or food forest.

Course fees – £329 (single) / £379 (2 people, 1 online access)

We don’t give grants for our courses but you might be able to apply for grants from:
– For professional gardeners –
– Also from

Course location: Dartington, Devon, UK.

Dates of the next courses are:

20-21 April 2024 (COURSE FULL)
18-19 May 2024 (COURSE FULL)
15-16 June 2024
20-21 July 2024
17-18 August 2024

Please select the course date you want in the menu below.  We can send you an accommodation list on request which may be of use (in summer, local accommodation can get booked up quickly.)

If you want two places for the Devon part of the course but only one of the online parts (eg. you are a couple booking), the extra place for the Devon sections is £50 – please choose the option for 2 people below.

SKU: FG-0105150 Category:


Forest Gardening – Course Outline

This course is now a hybrid of in-person teaching sessions at our research sites (including our world famous forest garden started in 1994) with leading expert and author Martin Crawford; as well as online videos, course lectures and a design exercise.

Practical information on tree crops, shrub crops, perennials and ground covers will be complemented with visits to our forest gardens 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.

Course enrolment will include:

  • Two sessions at our research sites in Devon on the weekend you book. These sessions are longer than our normal tours and specifically designed to cover more of the design strategies for forest gardens.
  • Access to all the materials in our extended online forest gardening /food forest course: 16 video episodes, 13 lecture episodes, online tours of our sites, pdf notes to online content (see for full info)
  • A design exercise with individual feedback

The Devon-based part of the course will run 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm on Saturday and  9.30-12.30 on Sunday.

Course fees – £329 (single) / £379 (2 people, 1 online access)

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 after 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.

Books will be available to buy in person in Devon.


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.

Once you have booked, you will have immediate access to the online parts of the course (value £279) and this is non-refundable. The remainder of the course fee (£50) is covered by the policy below.

In the event of the Devon-based part of the course being cancelled by us  (including because of Government covid restrictions) you will be completely refunded £50. We cannot be held responsible for any other fees or costs.

In the event of you cancelling your place on the Devon weekend part of the course:

  • prior to 8 weeks before the course you will get a £50 refund*;
  • 4-8 weeks before the course you will get a £25 refund*
  • less than 4 weeks before the course and you will not be due a refund .

*  refunds to non-UK bank accounts will incur a fee of £15.00 which we have to deduct from your refund.

If you wish to change your booking  dates for the Devon-based part of the course more than 8 weeks before the course dates, we will do our best to accommodate you but cannot guarantee availability for future dates. For less than 8 weeks before the dates, the refund policy above applies.


Additional information


20-21 April 2024, 20-21 April 2024 (2 people, 1 online access), 18-19 May 2024, 18-19 May 2024 (2 people, 1 online access), 15-16 June 2024, 15-16 June 2024 (2 people, 1 online access), 20-21 July 2024, 20-21 July 2024 (2 people, 1 online access), 17-18 August 2024, 17-18 August 2024 (2 people, 1 online access)