This very well attended workshop was held at Tolhurst Organic, near Reading, on Monday 30th November 2015. Packed into the packing shed on a wild and windy day, the event kicked off with a discussion of what is agroforestry and what it can do for you. Jo Smith from ORC presented results from the agroforestry research she has been involved in and outlined the pros and cons of planting trees on your farm. Fruit tree expert and Garden Organic Associate Stella Cubison then gave a whistle-stop tour of fruit trees including an explanation of variety and root stock selection (semi dwarf/ semi vigorous root stocks are recommended for agroforestry systems), fruit tree planting and management. Before going outside, Tolly then introduced his farm and business, his reasons for planting an agroforestry system and the design and tree species he had chosen. Tolly has planted a mixture of trees for fruit, timber and coppice products in single rows with 23m cropping alleys between where he continues to grow vegetables as part of his rotation. The group then braved the cold wind to have a look at the trees in the field and hear from Tolly his experiences of planting and managing the agroforestry system. Methods to prevent deer browsing damage were discussed as well as his plans for the tree understorey. The tour finished off with a visit to Tolly’s inspiring woodchip compost enterprise. Following a fabulous home-made lunch, we then split into two groups. Half the group went back out for a practical pruning demonstration on some of Tolly’s apple trees led by Stella, the other half staying in the warm to participate in an agroforestry design workshop led by Jo Smith. The workshop used one of Tolly’s fields as a base and 3 groups came up with 3 very different designs for the same field. To finish the day Luke Everitt from the Woodland Trust summarised grants and support available for planting trees on farms and urged anyone interested to get in touch.
This workshop was part of the Agforward project, which aims to promote agroforestry practices in Europe that will advance sustainable rural development.
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