Planting a forest garden on a roof in the city centre: Revisited

You may remember this place from PM35, well 9 years on and they’re still at it, planting, teaching and raising awareness. RISC in Reading is an excellent example of urban permaculture in its prime and has inspired projects up and down the country like Cwm Harry in Newtown Powys. Steve Jones explains its ethos and tells us of an exciting opportunity at the roof garden.

RISC Garden
An aerial view of the garden in Reading

RISC Reading Roof Garden is a bold statement about the possibilities for greening our cities, supporting biodiversity, reducing urban heat islands and storm surges and creating oases of calm and sanity in city centre spaces.

The garden is inspired by the work of Robert Hart and was designed as a Global Garden to reflect the inter-connectedness of life, society, history and culture on this earth. It is a statement about the importance of biodiversity and the value of the ecological legacy we leave to future generations. A forest garden is a self sustaining system assembled from a great many, mainly perennial plants with multiple uses, from around the world; some obscure, some so familiar we take them completely for granted, all of them however are important.

The day will focus on positive responses to the challenges thrown up for modern society by the excesses of industrial agriculture, the overuse of chemical inputs and the corresponding erosion of biodiversity, tops oils and water. Forest gardening address all these issue and more and can be practised in any setting on any scale. Forest gardening is simply the application of the principles of ecology to a designed, constructed system such as garden.

‘Society needs to evolve its relationship with the environment and fast, from degenerative destructive exploiting to a productive partnership aiming for regenerative design, adding biological and social complexity to the built environment.’

An important insight for…

  • Local and national politicians
  • Town Planners
  • Visionaries
  • Gardeners
  • Environmentalists
  • Everyone….

RISC has also been a big part of my own personal development, I moved there from CAT in 2002 to be involved in developing the roof garden project and it it will be a pleasure to be back there working on this one day event. The case for all the issues that the garden embodies have never been more pertinent: our place in the globalised world, the debt we owe to past generations for the diversity of food and medicine plants represented here that sustain us all.

The day will be a positive and uplifting experience, looking at how we can work with natural systems and permaculture design to create resilient, productive and bio-diverse habitats everywhere.. even on roof tops!

Booking is via and its £45 for the day, including delicious snack lunch. 55 places only.

Useful Resources


  1. RISC
  2. Sector 39
  3. Cwm Harry Land Trust

Book: How to Make a Forest Garden

Article: How we built an urban permaculture garden in the city centre

DVD: Forest Gardening with Robert Hart

Source / Fuente:

Author / Autor: Steve Jones 

 Date / Fecha: 26/07/11

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