Martin Crawford is the author of Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops. Martin has created a wonderful forest garden in Devon which you can see in the following short video – it illustrates not only the practical benefits of this permaculture technique but also just how beautiful a forest garden can be as a space. Martin’s book is available from Green Books, a fantastic independent publisher that has some interesting titles in its catalogue with subjects that range from Eco-philosophy and Green Living to Literature and Art. Here is a biography about the author and some information about his book form the website:
Forest gardening is a novel way of growing edible crops – with nature doing most of the work for you. A forest garden is modelled on young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops grown in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, there is little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Species are carefully chosen for their beneficial effects on each other, creating a healthy system that maintains its own fertility.
Creating a Forest Garden tells you everything you need to know, whether you want to plant a small area in your back garden or develop a larger plot. It includes advice on planning, design (using permaculture principles), planting and maintenance, and a detailed directory of over 500 trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, root crops and climbers – almost all of them edible and many very unusual.
As well as more familiar plants you can grow your own chokeberries, goji berries, yams, heartnuts, bamboo shoots and buffalo currants – while creating a beautiful space that has great environmental benefits. In the light of our changing climate it is important that we find new ways of growing food sustainably, without compromising soil health, food quality or biodiversity. Forest gardening offers an exciting solution to the challenge.
Martin started his working life a computer programmer but his passion for organic gardening quickly led to a change in career. He has had broad and varied horticultural/agricultural experience over the last 25 years – he has worked for the Yarner Trust in North Devon, teaching small-scale organic agriculture; grown food for a small hotel on the Isle of Iona; restored the walled gardens of a manor house in mid-Devon; and run his own organic market garden and tree nursery in South Devon.
His experience led him to the concept of forest gardening as a sustainable system that can flourish in our changing climate conditions, and it was this that led to the founding of the Agroforestry Research Trust in 1992, a non-profit-making charity that researches into temperate agroforestry and all aspects of plant cropping and uses, with a focus on tree, shrub and perennial crops. At his 2-acre forest garden in Dartington, Devon, planted 15 years ago, Martin systematically researches plant interactions and unusual crops. He also runs a commercial tree nursery specialising in unusual trees and shrubs, and has an 8-acre trial site, researching fruit and nut trees.
Martin teaches courses on Forest Gardening and Growing Nut Crops, writes books and edits a quarterly journal, Agroforestry News. His book Creating a Forest Garden – the forest gardening ‘bible’ – was published in 2010. His other books include Cherries: Production and Culture, Directory of Apple Cultivars, Directory of Pear Cultivars, Peaches and Apricots, Plums: Production, Culture and Cultivar Directory, Currants and Gooseberries, Blackberries and Raspberries, Chestnuts: Production and Culture, Hazelnuts: Production and Culture, Walnuts: Production and Culture, Bamboos, Ground Cover Plants, Nitrogen-fixing Plants for Temperate Climates, Timber Trees for Temperate Climates, Edible Plants for Temperate Climates,Useful Plants for Temperate Climates, Plants for Hedging, Plants for Basketry, Bee Plants and Dye Plants. His latest book, How to Grow Perennial Vegetables, was published in 2012.
He is a director of ‘Gaia’, a Trust formed by James Lovelock to further his work. He lives in Dartington with his wife and two children.