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For us, sustainability is about ensuring our capacity to care for the environment, while maintaining or improving quality of life and wellbeing. So we seek to develop ways to cultivate and harvest medicinal trees and other herbs which ensure that future supplies can be  protected along with the health of the ecosystem. Through the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust we aim to pass on this knowledge.


Biodiversity benefits from sustainable cultivation and harvesting. For us, sustainable agriculture is about the production of food and other products from plants using techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and wildlife – so ever-increasing yields and genetic modification which may damage the soil and undermine wildlife, are not regarded as sustainable. At Holt Wood we aim to support a wide variety of flora and fauna, and we celebrate diversity! We are gaining experience about a variety of medicinal trees and shrubs.

Resources for sustainability and biodiversity

Medicinal trees

Forest gardens are designed to bring together many species of plants that grow at a number of levels in a sustainable way. Much like a forest, these plants integrate well by using different locations from the ground upwards, and can often benefit each other in promoting soil fertility and deterring pests. A surprisingly productive source of foods and useful plants, most forest gardens include some that are medicinal. We will be adding information to this website about medicinal trees and shrubs

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Agroforestry is practised in many different ways, and integrates trees into growing. The Agroforestry Research Trust provides a rich source of information about useful trees as well as seeds and plants.

Baby Witch Hazel trees


Permaculture is all about design – whether it be for gardens, smallholdings or other spaces. The common-sense principles of permaculture involve careful assessment of resources available and planning for a sustainable and integrated system. The Permaculture Association is a good starting point for details of training courses and the network of Learning and Network Demonstration (LAND) Centres permaculture sites.

Sustainable projects and biodiversity, growers and producers

In this section we want to highlight projects and other developments which may be helpful in promoting sustainability and biodiversity in relation to medicinal trees and shrubs. Get in touch if you know of items which could be added!

Off-Grid Herbal Medicine Farm



At Elder Farm a medical herbalist and family have started an off-grid smallholding with the Ecological Land Co-op.

Sustainable Herbs Program

An American Botanical Council supported programme to get people thinking about where the herbs come from and why this matters. Ann Armbrecht has followed the supply chain in the herb industry to identify issues of sustainability. Videos and interviews chart some of the key questions for us all to address in sourcing herbal medicines. Quality and consistency of herb products can benefit greatly from good relationships between growers, producers and companies. More details…

Holt Wood Medicinal Trees and Shrubs

USA-based Growing Medicinal Herbs

At North Carolina State University, Jeanine Davis and colleagues are based in the Department of Horticultural Science, and support an online portal for growers of herbs and speciality vegetables. Promoting sustainable and organic production, there is much practical advice for farmers and smallholders. Woodland medicinals are the focus of some projects, and there is information relevant to growing and marketing ginseng and goldenseal in the USA.

US Medicinal Plant Sanctuary

Goldenseal in US

A Goldenseal plant in the hands

The Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary provides a focus for all interested in saving plants at risk. Anne visited the United Plant Savers site in Ohio in 2010, and you can read about her trip in 2010 in the Herbaid blog….

Medicinal Forest Gardens and Permaculture

Anne at Holt Wood

Listen to Anne talking with Daniel Tyrkiel about permaculture and herbal medicine. She tells how Holt Wood was transformed from a conifer plantation to a diverse forest garden where medicinal trees and shrubs can be sustainably cultivated and harvested. It is around 45 minutes and you can listen here…

Medicinal Trees and Research

Trees are good for you! Research about the benefits of trees and woodland. A recent research article suggests a relationship between tree health and human health. Salmond et al. (2016) argue that ‘street trees can be an important tool for urban planners and designers in developing resilient and resourceful cities in an era of climatic change’. More details…


Herbal Medicine Education

The Betonica herbal apprenticeship programme is a new combination of traditional knowledge and modern science lating 3 to 7 years for someone who wants to fully train as a medical herbalist. Based in South West England, the programme inolves taught and practical sessions and experience gained through community clinics. More details…

Balkan Ecology Project

The Balkan Ecology Project is a permaculture project in Bulgaria with an inspiring record of practical experience with forest gardening for food. Paul Alfrey and colleagues have issued a Polyculture Market Garden Study with detailed measurement of inputs and outputs. Many of the plants are medicinal. For more details…