Forest gardening course

Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 July 2019
This two-day course runs from 10.00am to 5pm in various locations around Sussex.

Learn how to grow fruit, nuts, salads and perennial vegetables as a low maintenance, highly productive garden ecosystem. You will see firsthand how forest gardens work in a number of different settings. Includes 4 site visits.

(Can't make these dates? Click here if you would like us to email you when future courses are scheduled.)

VideoWatch a video of instructor Bryn Thomas taken at a forest garden visit on the course.

What is a Forest Garden?

"A forest garden is a food-producing garden, based on the model of a natural woodland or forest. It is usually made up of fruit and nut trees, fruit bushes, perennial vegetables and herbs. It can be tailored to fit any space from a tiny back yard to a large rural garden." [Patrick Whitefield, How to Make a Forest Garden]

Have a virtual look around a forest garden in this fantastic video produced for Permaculture magazine.

What will the Forest gardening course cover?

  • Concepts and principles of forest gardening
  • Crops, yields and other uses of forest gardens
  • Design and selecting trees / plants
  • Planting, establishment and maintenance

General gardening and basic fruit growing skills are not covered in depth on this course, but are necessary to practice forest gardening.

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone aged 16 or over, and no prior knowledge of the subject is needed. However due to its specialist nature it will be of interest to experienced gardeners and professionals as well as the complete novice. There will also be some practical gardening work, though this will be a small part of the course and students are welcome not to participate in this. We will be outdoors for much of the course and will be visiting four sites, if you have a disability that you think may affect your ability to attend the course, please contact us before booking to discuss how you can be accommodated.

Learning methods and outcomes

The course will start with a brief discussion about what participants want from the course. Much of the course will be spent visiting four sites and looking at how the application of forest gardening can work in different settings. The rest of the course will be taught using a variety of methods; group work, presentations, discussion, and slides. By the end of the course, you will have a basic knowledge of the ideas and principles of forest gardening as well as understanding some of the techniques necessary to put the theory into practice. Participants who complete the entire course will receive a certificate, which will be sent via email after the course.

What does the Forest gardening course lead on to?

This short specialist course is not accredited. It does not lead on directly to any other courses. Previous participants have gone on to attend other courses run by Brighton Permaculture Trust, including permaculture design and fruit related courses.

Course tutors

Bryn Thomas, an experienced tutor/trainer who has been creating and maintaining forest gardens for over 18 years including the one the course visits at Seaford.

Stephan Gehrels will co-teach the course and will show us the garden he is creating at a school as well as sharing a short presentation on the forest garden at the Agroforestry Research Trust.

Venues, visits and accommodation

Day 1: Seaford
Day 2: Brighton

The first day will be held at the home of Brighton Permaculture Trustee Diane Brewster in Seaford, East Sussex. Diane has developed established forest garden pictured on this page with the assistance of course tutor Bryn Thomas. The venue is less than 2 miles from Seaford railway station and a short walk from Brighton & Hove bus route number 12. See Brighton & Hove City Council’s journey planner.

The second day we will meet at Hertford Junior School, Brighton, to see the forest garden being developed there by Stephan Gehrels. Lastly, we will travel to Stanmer Park (near University of Sussex, Brighton). Here we will demonstrate some practical techniques for the creation and maintenance of forest gardens at Brighton Permaculture Trust's plot and look at the old orchards.

If you intend to book accommodation, please check availability before booking a place, as accommodation in Brighton can be hard to find, especially over the summer months.

Get details on local accommodation and Brighton Permaculture Trust supporters who can provide accommodation in their homes.

Reference resources

These books are recommended, but it is not necessary for those attending to buy or read them:


VideoWatch a video clip setting the benefits of forest gardening in a global context.


Fees include tuition and refreshments on the second day of the course only.

  • £247.50 - Sponsored/organisation rate
  • £247.50 - Individual income more than 25k/yr
  • £200 - Individual income 18-25k/yr
  • £152.50 - Individual income less than 18k/yr
  • £52.50 - Individual, concessionary rate (check eligibility)*

* Concessionary places are limited. If places are not available check back two weeks before the course/event as more may be available then.

We endeavour to make our courses and events affordable to all. Unfortunately, we do not receive any external funding for most of these and rely on large amounts of voluntary input.

See the cancellations and refunds policy.

Booking the Forest gardening course

Booking is essential, as most of our courses/events are fully booked weeks in advance. However, if places are still available, then bookings can be made until midday the day before the course/event. A place is not secured until we have received the requested payment.

Please do not book unless you are able to pay for your place.

Paying for your place

Please read this section carefully.

When you complete the booking process, you will receive a confirmation email from us. If you haven't received that email within the next few hours, please contact us immediately, as this email contains vital information regarding your booking.

You can pay when you book your place using a credit/debit card or PayPal, or you can tick the 'Pay later' box (in the Event Fee section), which gives you the option to pay by BACS or send us a cheque after you have booked. If you choose to pay later, you will have 7 days to pay for your place. Bookings that remain unpaid on our system for longer than that will expire. You will receive notification of this expiration by email. If you then decide you want to come, you will need to contact us to see if there is a still a place available for you.

If you are booking within two weeks of the course, or the course is nearly full, you will not have the option to pay later. Instead, you will need to pay immediately at the point of booking using a credit card or PayPal.

Be certain that you understand ALL the information on this page, then:


Book the 6-7 July course

  • Mara
    "I really got a lot out of this and certainly was one of the most inspiring courses I've attended. I'm now developing a forest garden ... together with my volunteers."

    Mara Crippa

  • Marcin
    "Very friendly atmosphere, open minded people, very inspiring, loads of new useful information, tutors with very rich theoretical and practical knowledge."


  • Clare
    "I really liked visiting real examples of forest gardening."

    Clare Bateson

  • Melanie
    "The course was a delight. I have learned so much and am eager to put some of the ideas into practice."

    Melanie Child

  • Paula
    "It was good to have Bryn and Stephan both contributing, especially when they had different takes on things. They were very generous with their answers to my specific questions."

    Paula McMullan

  • David
    "Variety of examples. Good mix of theory and practice. Stephan & Bryn are a great double act!"

    David Cuthbertson

  • Luke
    "Thanks to all involved, it was a great weekend. The interactivity of it, the depth of knowledge and ability to explore topics ad hoc."


  • Mike
    "Relaxed but informative, interactive, comprehensive."


  • Phil
    "A sociable mix of indoors and outdoors. Seeing different examples and contexts of forest gardens was very instructive."


Contact us

For further information or if you have problems with your registration, please contact us.

Forest gardening Forest gardening Forest gardening

Thanks to Kim Sweet who took these photos 5 July 2014.