Forest Garden Volunteering


Are you interested in forest gardening, drinking milk from cows who keep their calves, and eating delicious nutrient-rich meat, all from high welfare 100% grass-fed animals raised sustainably? Then we have a volunteering opportunity here at Smiling Tree Farm that may interest you.

We are looking for volunteers in June/July 2018 to help with some much needed maintenance and development of our large forest garden. Planted in 2012, with over 2,000 trees, fruit bushes and other plants, there is now full ground cover and many trees are over 6m tall. Since planting, however, there has been little maintenance and the forest is now more like a jungle in places! The guilds have been almost lost in the abundant growth. So the plan is:

  • Week 1, 18 - 24 Jun: find and re-define the guilds, carefully clear some of the bulrushes from the pond, cut back the undergrowth to free the lost fruit bushes, open up the paths and remove any unwelcome plants.
  • Week 2, 25 Jun - 1 Jul: once we can see the wood for the trees, we can make a plan for the next phase of development using your ideas and expertise, and start to implement that, which may include propagating plants, thinning trees or bushes as needed, mulching and marking spaces for future winter planting, etc. 
  • Week 3, 2 - 8 Jul: for those wishing to stay for 3 weeks, this last week we can spend more time learning about our ethical and sustainable production of meat and milk, and doing some more general farm maintenance, which will include the annual ‘thistle budging’.

This opportunity is open to those who can commit to spending either 2 or 3 weeks here on a WWOOF UK* volunteer basis, arriving the evening of 17 June 2018. The WWOOF exchange we offer is to work 6hrs per day Mon-Fri, with weekends free to relax, in exchange for room, board and learning opportunities. 

We now run a self-catering system, with ingredients provided, on a rota so that each day one of the volunteers takes on the main evening meal cooking duties as part of their 6hrs and spends less time working outside. 

A typical week day here is:

  • 9am morning meeting to discuss the day’s activities
  • 10.30-11am coffee break
  • 1-2pm lunch
  • 4.15pm gather for end of day feedback & review
  • 4.30pm finish

Accommodation will be allocated once all the volunteers are known and will be either dormitory style or individual rooms. 

We are looking for self-motivated, positive people with an interest in sustainable food production, who can work as part of a team, pull their weight and respect the needs of others. We farm on a hillside, so you will need to be physically able. For the benefit of our animals we cannot accept volunteers with dogs.

You can read what other volunteers have said here

*Volunteers will need to be members of WWOOF UK. The cost for single membership is £20.

To apply for one of the limited spaces please complete and return the application form


In order to support those with a real enthusiasm for forest gardening, who would like to learn more from the experts and then bring that learning back here to practice their skills, we are separately offering some bursary places on the following courses:

Agroforestry Research Trust: Forest Gardening with Martin Crawford

4-6 May or 8-10 June 2018 more information here.

Applewood Permaculture: Forest Gardening with Chris Evans

16-17 June 2018 more information here.

If you would like to apply for one of these bursary places please indicate which on the application form

Please email Christine if you have any questions.