Planting Up Milton Keynes

Planting Up Milton Keynes

Planting Up is a voluntary group that has been formed from a Transition Town Milton Keynes (TTMK) permaculture project.

Our Community Garden



Planting Up is a voluntary group that has been formed from a Transition Town Milton Keynes (TTMK) permaculture project. 



This project was born when Westbury Arts Centre agreed for an overgrown piece of their land to be regenerated into a community garden.

  1. A permaculture practitioner was commissioned to survey the area and draw up a plan
  2. Local volunteers started working together on the land
  3. A grant was awarded by Milton Keynes Community Foundation



And the project took shape from there…


The start.......



Some hard-grafting volunteers......




 Signs of what is to come......



 Our planted Forest Garden demonstration plot....




Permaculture designed garden


The “permaculture” aspect of our project simply means that our gardening approach is designed around cooperating with nature, rather than working against it. 


No chemicals, no unnatural fertilizers, no dig!



Keeping with nature like this means we have to be more creative in our garden design. It’s more than just being “organic”. It’s a practical garden plan that is based on creating naturally harmonious systems that minimise our environmental impact whilst also caring for people so that we all benefit from it.




It’s sustainability at its best – which results in us being more productive for a lot less effort.


Our “permie” approach means no more back-breaking digging and weeding in the garden


When you hear the word “permaculture”, you often hear it referred to as “no dig” gardening. The reason for this is that permaculture is about mimicking nature’s way. 


You don’t see nature needing to manually dig up soil for spectacular forests to grow. Instead, nature’s forests continually add to the forest floor with fallen leaves, twigs and branches and plants growing in cycles that return them to the earth; all of which then decompose to create a rich humus of healthy soil.




Achieving more by using less!


Basing our community garden project on permaculture principles means we are more mindful of how we use our resources – whether that’s food, energy, water, shelter or other material and non-material needs. This approach helps us recognise how it is possible to get much more out by using less – just as nature does by working in complementary, closed-loop cycles to be ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive.


When you think about it, you can see how this can be translated to just about anything natural and how it results in a process of recycling, reusing and regenerating.


This thought process goes on to make you realise how permaculture is not exclusive to gardening and farming/ agriculture at all.  It’s much more an ethical framework for design, with principles and a practical application that can be used by anyone, just about anywhere.



Westbury Arts Centre community garden


Our community garden was designed to consist of two plots to begin with – one to demonstrate a forest garden and the other for a social area with some raised beds.  


Both plots are about bringing local people together to transform the land into a productive food growing and wildlife paradise for everyone to enjoy.






The Forest Garden


We started work on our forest garden demo plot by cutting back grass and weeds and creating a mulch bed using a layer of cardboard, biodegradable kitchen waste, manure, straw and woodchip. It didn’t take too long before this decomposed to produce a rich, fertile soil for us to plant in; which we always keep topped up with new mulch layers to reap the benefits of its water-holding and nutrient storage capacity.


As with a natural forest, we planted a variety of plants that would grow at different heights in our forest garden. This “stacking” effect means that our tall fruit trees will eventually shelter the fruiting shrubs below them, while the perennial herbs and vegetables below them will provide nutrients in the soil and finally the ground covering plants will help to cover the soil (like mulch) to protect water loss and erosion.





The forest garden is positioned near to the moat on the site and has been specially designed to provide an array of foods, flowers and natural shelter to encourage biodiversity and wildlife habitats.


Obviously, nature benefits from this wildlife haven, but people benefit from it too. We take pleasure from working together to create it and see it bloom and buzz with nature, as well as from the organic fruit and veg it produces that we all consume and share.


The added bonus of us working with nature is that the forest garden has a natural pest control system. The most notable example of this is the slug patrol that works without any negative environmental impact (unlike pesticides like slug-pellets cause), where newts and frogs from the moat take care of the pests by eating them for us.



The social side



There’s a lot to be said for producing your own organic food, especially as part of a community garden. The simple act of getting outdoors in the fresh air and physically mucking in with some gardening keeps us active and healthier, but the fact we do this with others, socialising with our neighbours and working on something together is good for us mentally and in building a more “sharing” community too.



We all bring something different to our community garden plot, which means we all learn from each other.  Everyone has something to offer the group – whether that’s with hands-on labour in the garden or administering the project, what we chat about over our “bring & share” lunches, or even the recipes and cooking techniques we sample from some of our chefs in the making!


We work together, we learn together and we eat together



In addition to our work in the garden we also put on public events where we invite speakers to tell us more about the things we’re interested in.  So far we’ve had permaculture practitioners teach us more about growing our own food (and how it can be done just about anywhere), a forager show us how nature has a hidden larder of free foodie hedgerow treasures and a Master Composter introduce us to the power of vermicomposting and how healthy soil has superpowers that can help reverse climate change!


Community enterprise



Our group meets at least once a month for a garden work party (also known as a “permablitz”) where we share our knowledge, skills, tools, food and work on shared land.


We reduce, re-use and recycle as much as possible, working with local people and local businesses to help sustain our project and our local economy.


This helps us to be more self-sufficient as well as encourage a more sharing local community that has some practical, long-lasting alternatives to current systems of mass consumption.


On an individual level what we do on our community garden also helps us to save money and support us having happier and healthier lifestyles as we support each other, our community, wildlife and our environment.


Everyone is welcome to join our project.


Visit for more information on upcoming events and news.


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