We’ve planted well over 4,000 shrubs and trees at Vallis Veg since purchasing the site in 2003. The trees serve the following functions:
- wind shelter for our fruit, vegetables and livestock on our previously very wind-exposed site
- providing a sustainable source of timber through coppicing/pollarding
- providing wildlife habitat
- stock feed
- carbon sequestration
- creating a new field structure and field boundaries
- providing privacy screening for ourselves and the general public
We received small grants from the Forestry Commission and Somerset County Council for some of these plantings, which just about covered the costs of materials. These plantings were done in accordance with Forestry Commission/County Council requirements – for example, planting on an average 3 x 3m spacing in the case of the Forestry Commission plantings, which encourages straight, upright growth. The trees require regular thinning and coppicing.
Most of our trees are native (or native-ish…) broadleaf varieties such as oak, ash, beech, hornbeam, lime and sweet chestnut. We planted a lot of ash trees, and for safety reasons we’ve had to take some of them out where they were near camping pitches due to ash dieback disease. There’s quite a lively debate going on in the permaculture world about the virtues or otherwise of extensive tree-planting on farmland to which we’ve contributed a little ourselves here and here. We’re reasonably happy at present with our plantings and are leaving them to grow on towards their mature state.