In August 2012, Veronica and I were invited to lead a 5 day advanced design course at the El Manzano Eco-Escuela in Bio-Bio, Chile. This course was designed to provide students with advanced design skills to allow them to design and install their own Forest Gardens. As an added challenge I taught this course in Spanish.
Over the course of 5 days 33 students went through the process of learning how to analyse a site, develop a concept design, develop a detailed design and implement the planting. The site was behind the Casa de Conejos, a small fiber-board house located in the El Manzano eco-village. Griffen and Javiera live in this house with Anaru, their son.
The goals of the Forest Garden were to provide fruit and food for Griffen, Javi and Anaru with some excess which could be processed on the farm. Also, it was hoped to be a learnscape, where students could learn and understand the principles of Forest Gardening. The site was bordered by a main road and pine forests to the North and West.
Over the first three days of the course the students analysed the site and applied the principles of forest gardening to develop possible designs for the space.
It was a great space for an advanced design course as the area was like a blank canvas. Groups of students developed different designs for the site and we selected the common patterns to develop a site analysis of the site.
On the fourth day of the course we started the installation. Some students brought in the materials for the install, others began to survey the site and develop the path pattern in the garden.
By lunch time we had completed a seating circle and the primary paths were in.
At the end of the day all the trees were in as well as tree guards installed to prevent the plants getting eaten by rabbits which are prolific on site.
The goals of the garden were to provide fruit for Griffen and Javi who live at the El Manzano Eco-Village which is next to the Ecoescula. Further, the goals were to develop a learnscape near the school where students could learn about the principles of Forest Gardening. As the garden develops we can evaluate whether the garden will achieve these goals and what we need to change in order to move the garden towards its goals.