A new project is taking shape at the gateway to the Cowdray Model Farm at Easebourne.
Led by Eliza Pearson, Lord and Lady Cowdray’s eldest daughter, the creation of a permaculture garden got under way, with the help of a 30-strong workforce of young people and under the guidance of expert Phil Gamble, from Dorset.
Permaculture is a theory of ecological design which seeks to develop sustainable human settlements and agricultural systems by attempting to model them on natural ecosystems.
The planting session on Saturday involved trees and shrubs from apples, pears and plums, to soft fruits, on the basis that virtually everything in this garden will be low-maintenance and edible.
Less well-known varieties include trazels – a hybrid which produces crops of nuts akin to hazel – Nepalese pepper, and jostaberry, a cross between blackcurrant and gooseberry, and tasting a bit like both, Mr Gamble explained.
Eliza, 23, was joined by friends, her parents and her two brothers at the start of what is to become a wider ‘Incredible Edible’ project, following the example set by Todmorden, a market town in West Yorkshire.
She has plans for a fruit and nut forest which will cover two-and-a-half acres beyond the model farm, close to the back of Cowdray House gardens.
Subject to planning consent from Chichester District Council – necessary because of the listed Capability Brown landscape of the gardens – planting of the forest will take place in the autumn, Lord Cowdray said.
The ‘incredible edible’ venture was described by Eliza as ‘educating and inspiring people to reconnect with the land and the process by which our life is sustained’.
“It is going back to having a big respect for nature and an appreciation of food,” she added.
“This garden is sited where people can take an interest and find out what they can do. My great hope is we can all come together as a local community and grow more of our own food.”