Forest Garden/Woodland walkway Lottery Grant

I’m very happy to announce that Buddhafield has been awarded £10,000 by the Big Lottery Fund Awards For All and I’m not ashamed to admit to shedding a tear (or two!) when I opened the offer letter. The grant is specifically to create and develop a woodland walkway and a forest garden project at Broadhembury, one of the two pieces of land that Buddhafield owns in Devon. A Forest Garden is a way of planting that mimics young natural woodland. It is developing as an alternative means for producing food and as a method to restore bio diversity. The plants in a forest garden are all of use, directly for food, medicine, basketry, dye and indirectly for bees and nitrogen fixing. A forest garden requires very little upkeep, with the plants and shrubs working together to create the need for minimal human intervention. The woodland walkway will provide access through mature woodland that is best left unmanaged for nature conservation. It would create a nature trail through otherwise impenetrable, marshy land. Rupadarshin, Buddhafield’s craftsman extraordinaire will design and build a simple, low impact pathway, using alder and oak, relying on a method used on the Somerset levels 3,000 years ago.

The grant is based on us holding an event on the land next winter, for a week, with anyone who would like to come and help us very welcome. We are approaching the event from the angle of the ‘Green gym’ movement where good mental health has been proven to be supported and encouraged by exercising and working outside. It will be free for volunteers and we’re currently researching warm and snuggly places to stay nearby for those who don’t fancy sleeping in tents. The funding covers things such as buying two hundred trees, erecting a deer fence, hiring a tractor driver for a few days and buying materials and tools. There is also funding for a few weeks work before the event starts to prepare the land so that volunteers get to do as many of the ‘nice’ activities such as tree planting , as possible!

Buddhafield functions on a shoe string, with our retreats run on a dana system to ensure that as many people who want to are able to participate. It means that we don’t have any reserves for positive projects outside of our retreats/festival/cafe programme. This grant gives us the opportunity to put creative energy into a really meaningful project and to encourage all those who want to join in to come and be a part of it. Particularly during this time of economic hardship, it feels great to get funding for such a forward thinking and sustainable project. I hope the forest garden project will encourage lots of people to get involved and will be an inspiration for many years to come.

Hannah Phillips (Buddhafield retreats/fundraising)