Creating a permaculture forest garden in Somerset, UK


United Kingdom


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  • Description


    We are a couple who are creating an edible forest garden and are newbies in this area - so if you have experience with woodwork, renovation or have helped on permaculture projects before we are really going to welcome you.

    Right now we're looking for someone, or a couple, to help with weeding as it's that time of year; sowing seeds, potting on and prepping the ground with manure etc. It's been gorgeous here the last few days. We have a caravan for a couple, or camping spaces now the wether is better.

    Otherwise we'd welcome a vegetarian couple or single person with handyperson skills - let us know if you have woodworking skills. We have loads of pallets and falling down sheds and need to make a wood store to dry the wood out. In a month or two we may need help making window frames and doing some interior plaster...we have a caravan for a couple or two friends from mid July

    Generally, we would love help to prepare the vegetable beds for the season (turning the compost pile, mulching and covering, as well as weeding and moving manure and woodchip around by wheelbarrow. D would also like some help insulating the walls of one of the caravans.... let us know if you are handy with a chainsaw...

    Let us know if you're practical and used to living simply off-grid (where showers, boiling kettles and running the bread machine depend on the amount of sun each day, and you cook on a rayburn wood fired stove. Before the autumn comes we'll need to put up a wind turbine to make use of the stormy weather..... We are also geared to the seasons, letting the fowl out at 6am and putting them to bed at 6pm when it gets dark. We have lunch around midday, dinner at 6pm and are usually in bed by 8 or 9pm. We usually have eggs once a day as our rescue hens are very productive layers
    Time here will help you understand if the off grid life is for you.

    We do have internet and mains water tho, so not fully off grid, and a booster takes signal to the caravan. D is an expert on solar systems and runs an e vehicle from the solar panels. Our solar water heating system is very efficient - showers on sunny days only!

    If you have a van to live in that would also work, but we can't take dogs because of our cats and poultry - while it's mild at the moment, you need to be comfortable in the cold and wet weather and bring thermals and rain gear and wellies - whatever you need to be comfortable outdoors. We have some items which may fit

    We've had some fantastic workaways over the summer who have helped out with landscaping and laying in pipes for the rainwater catchment system - still needs a bit of work - and some with great cooking skills too

    We are working on a few broad themes -
    -Energy, finishing projects with solar heating batteries and putting in a wind turbine
    - Harnessing water setting up guttering, butts and water storage, plumbing in a tank,
    - not much luck with sinking a borehole, so need to create a pond
    - chopping, storing wood and woodchipping
    - preparing the soil, lot of wheelbarrowing, mulching with cardboard, roadside leaves, etc, making hugelbeds, prepping polytunnel

    In the cooler season we prepare sowing beds, turn over the allium garden, repair the greenhouse, make cold frames, polyhoops, erect trellises and supports for plants from willow....

    From spring we go into seed growing mode and setting up more plant beds!
    In summer weeding and preparing autumn crops.

    In late summer processing apples - juice, and grapes, so let us know if you're skilled with cider making or wine

    There is always ongoing woodchopping, weed control, propagating plants, autumn planting, watering, as well as foraging and cooking, making jams

    When we get around to it, we have a great small project for making a biogas digester out of an ibc to deal with all the dock weed we've pulled (see the latest Permaculture magazine)


    If you have horticultural experience and are intrigued by the idea of permaculture and cultivating edible perennials you can learn alongside us. It's a few acres in the beautiful countryside of Taunton Deane with a small off grid eco-house, a few polytunnels with young cats, chickens and ducks, as well as a separate (fairly basic) barn kitchen area for workaway volunteers.

    We are happy to welcome you if you are a handyman, horticulturalist, or have experience with permaculture, forest gardens or growing edible perennials, or organic gardening as we are newbies and are slowly getting to grips with the site throughout it's many seasons, which these days lurch from one extreme to another! It is good for people who want to learn about permaculture and forest gardens or organic gardeners... we completed our Permaculture Design Course this year.

    It would suit a couple, or two friends. In the spring we have tents available for single people who like peace and quiet and are happy with your own company too - and if you are a couple who likes to be in nature or go for local walks this place will suit you. We have a couple of bicycles.

    This summer we can accomodate people in the caravan; We have a caravan with a double bed, and have been insulating the other one - as well as camping options in the summer. We have a couple of tents if you want to camp near the orchard.

    If you have your own vehicle it's a good place to park up. There is a basic kitchen up top and a compost toilet.

    This is not a suitable placement for a young person who is primarily looking to improve their English language, and loves socialising as it tends to be quiet here. ... it is quiet in the area and there aren't many places to explore, so if you like some time to think and read, draw or birdwatch, forage and make interesting recipes, this could suit.

    In terms of "social distancing" we tend to take meals on the terrace and try to keep distance for the first 10 days.

    Later in the summer, if someone would like to help organise the house and storerooms there is a huge amount of stuff in boxes that needs sorting and finding space for - along with making shelves and creating storage solutions. We've focused mainly on outside, and the winter season is good for clearing and cleaning kitchen and bathrooms

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    This project is great for you if you are exploring the possibilities of permaculture but don't have access to land and may be wanting to develop skills while looking for your own project.

    We have met many lovely and dedicated people on permie training courses and would love to welcome you in this opportunity to see how it is starting a project pretty much from scratch. We would be learning and implementing together!

  • Help


    As newbies we would appreciate someone experienced with horticulture who knows what weeds are and what plants need right now. Some tasks that need doing in the next few months are .... If you know about propagating plants that would be a great skill to contribute.

    There's always trying to keep on top of planting, watering and weeding, strimming and trimming overhanging branches as well as mowing with a tractor. Let us know if you have experience with a chainsaw as various piles of wood still need processing. Mulching around trees with cardboard and straw, composting, and for those with experience building compost toilets outside, putting a coat of lime on barn and house.

    My partner will probably be preoccupied with planning - and the defunct wind turbine... and finishing off the chicken tractor. A series of ponds will need putting in with a digger at some point.

    We have a beehive and have been planting the orchard with beeplants.

    This gives you some idea of the sorts of things that might be going on if you come...

    We have done a lot of tree-planting around the perimeter now, and propagating trees in the poytunnel. There is still pruning to do, splitting comfrey and rhubarb and artichokes, and planting out perennials in the spring.

    There's also a bit of help on upgrading the chicken house - and creating some storage areas. We have plenty of pallet wood for making basic structures. The sheds could all do with some attention.

    If you love creating log workshops with a green roof that's a project for the late summer, and then there's finishing the last coat of render on the straw bale house.

    Later in the season there's canning and pressing apples, cider and making herbal remedies ......

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    In the summer, you have your own caravan with a comfy mattress and a small wood burning stove, which is right next to the barn kitchen and some herbs. It is in a shady place and next to the polytunnel

    There is a shady grassed area nearby, with table and chairs where it's lovely to hang out and drink herb tea.

    Toilets are bucket loos with sawdust and the property is off-grid, but is connected with water - and wifi. There is a sink in the kitchen area. The caravan has its own compost loo which will need to be emptied in the compost bay. At present water is limited on days that are not sunny! We're working on it ....

    There is also plenty of space for camping. I have started a living willow structure - which will take a year or two to develop....

    You will eat a vegetarian meal for your main meal, which will be lentils or legume based with vegetables and salads. We will be planting our own edible fruit and vegetable so feel free to forage as you wish. Oat cereals are available for breakfast and herb teas... there are different varieties of mint outside the barn kitchen area. You can forage for fruits - berries, apples. You can help yourself to eggs! We are vegetarian and eat a lot of greens! Dharma tends to do fried egg and beans as a fallback, so if you like cooking it is good to have variety...

    Cooking is mainly from food grown on the land, so dishes will be from seasonal ingredients. Brassicas grow really well here and tree spinach. we have a lot of berries and fruit

    Please note that we are off grid and the facilities are basic, so this is not a venue for someone who expects city comforts. Our hot water supply depends on solar power.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    The property is in the Somerset countryside - nearest train station Taunton - but you would probably need your own transport. We have bicycles and are doing up a small electric car for local trips .... it's a couple of miles to the closest village. There is a small community run outdoor pool there, and also a lake - none of these are open yet as the surrounding villages are full of the elderly and vulnerable.

    You will need to enjoy your own company as we do not usually have groups of people here

    As we have recently moved in we are still networking with the local community. It's very peaceful and quiet here but you can keep your own hours. Sometimes there will be only one person on site, sometimes two (a couple)

    This place is great if you like time to draw, write, read or contemplate!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Not too big

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

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Host ref number: 817946533812