The Barking Food Forest co-design sessions were opportunities for TWCP staff, resident steering group member; Nikhil Rathore, and local residents to come together and hear the plans and vision for the forthcoming Barking Food Forest. Most importantly, local residents were also invited to share their views and suggestions on what they desired to be a part of the garden. Particularly, residents were able to give input on what plants they would like to grow, what features the shared garden space should include and what activities they would like to enjoy in the space.
Nikhil Rathore introduced the project as a “community effort” and explained the permaculture approach that would be adopted. He stated that the food forest would be a space that was permanent; sustaining itself and regenerating nature, and pointed out a few principles such as catching and storing energy. Local residents were then invited to introduce themselves and share what their favourite nature spot was.
The session continued with Nikhil providing more detail as to the structure of a food forest; a garden system design that has multiple layers. He named seven layers that would be incorporated into the garden (canopy, lower tree-level, shrub layer, herbaceous layer, soil surface, root layer, vertical layer), and their benefits, such as weed protection.
Local residents were then told of the progress of the project so far, which included:
– Campaigning: YCAG’s winning campaign for the site of the food forest.
– Co-designing: YCAG and other students from Riverside campus informed the initial food forest design. Sessions with local residents.
– Preparatory infrastructure works are currently taking place.
The session ended with a collaborative Jamboard where everyone shared their ideas on the themes of a garden and forest, what plants and features they would like to see, and aspects of the project people were most passionate about.