Food trees (mostly fruit and nut trees) are an important component of the NHS Forest and are an ideal way to encourage staff, patients and the local community to become involved in the care, use and long term maintenance of the forest. We can also underplant the NHS Forest with other foodcrops.
Not only do food trees help interaction between people and trees (think apple collecting and bobbing, cherry jam, walnut and pear puddings), but in the long term they will help in a small way to make a local area more able to support itself. Skills of pruning, harvesting and other care will be developed in the community as well as cutting down on the need for imported food. Whether you are a nurse with green fingers or an elderly patient who can instruct a young volunteer in pruning, there will be plenty for everyone to do!
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare have set up a food tree working group to discuss the edible elements of the NHS Forest. If you would like to be involved either centrally in this group or at your local organisation, please do contact us.