Discover The Edible Forest

Our Edible Forest is a place like no other! Imagine walking through a forest where everything around you is edible or medicinal. Discover what happens once you step inside the Edible Forest. Once you step inside the Edible Forest, you will be guided through six specifically designed areas which naturally flow into one another. Be guided by one of the gourmet gardeners in The Edible Forest who lovingly created the space, learn the health benefits and reasons why individual plants were selected as you meander through the lush and abundant ‘forest’.  Learn about the benefits Gotu Kola, Moringa and Lemon Verbena and why they should be included in your home garden.

Open daily for guided tours at 10am (Mon-Fri) or 12pm Saturdays. Group bookings by appointment.

The Edible Forest will produce an edible component every day of the year.

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Visit The Harvest Hub

The HARVEST HUB is a little space where you can find shelves filled with jams, relishes and marinated goods; all made from items harvested from the Edible Forest. Stop in and stock up on the house made supplies to enjoy at home including inspirational books, sustainable items and delicious room sprays & soy travel candles.

Classes are held in The HARVEST HUB; look out for cooking classes and school holiday programs too. Available to be booked for corporate and private events.

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Edible Forest

Book a Tour

Our Edible Forest is a place like no other! Imagine walking through a forest where everything around you is edible or medicinal.

Discover what happens once you step inside the Edible Forest.

Discover More

Cooking Classes

Learn To Cook

A love for fresh produce is something we all share. Our Cooking classes will educate, engage and bring people together. Hands-on classes and demonstrations will allow you to rediscover long-forgotten techniques or learn new skills.

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Stage 1: The Plan

From imagination to consultation to reality – this was months of planning in mid 2015.

Designs for an Edible Food Forest and construction of a ‘free to roam’ chook pen began in July 2015. The Edible Forest plans quickly developed with the assistance and guidance of John Ferris from Edible Forest Nursey (Wonga Park); the initial stages for a 1-acre block together with a hothouse for germination; the Edible Forest will provide Yarra Valley Estate with an abundance of fruit and vegetables all year round.

The site within the Yarra Valley Estate property was selected and developed using permaculture design principles to mimic structures and inter-relationships found in natural forest systems to produce an abundance of diverse perennial foods and medicinal plants.

Individual areas flowing from each corner of the Edible Forest which would include a wide variety of plants were carefully selected with ‘patch designs’ drawn up for each individual area (see image of ‘patch design’ for the Tea Garden);

• Tea Garden
• Pond & Wetlands
• Bush Tucker ‘Australiana’
• Woodlands
• Sensory Garden
• Berry Bliss Garden

The ‘patch design’ of the Tea Garden; located at the entrance of the EF

Stage 2: Raised Vegetable Beds

At the top of the Edible Forest is a section of ‘traditional raised bed’ vegetable garden which is fully enclosed and consists of 4 large beds. This garden works in conjunction with the herb garden at the kitchen and the original kitchen vegetable garden (established in Aug 2015).

Planting of ‘stage 2’ vegetable garden

Stage 3: Paths, Garden Beds & Irrigation

The design of the paths and borders of the garden beds utilised fallen burnt tree stumps from the YVE property, (available for use due to the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009) with the charred wooded stumps adding character to the path edges further demonstrating our dedication to ‘repurposing’.

Hügelkultur garden beds are layered to maximise the use of organic matter including the layering of the beds from the earth up. Mounds of earth, manure and hay sit on top of the wooden tree stumps & large branches which absorb and hold water during winter to slowly release during the summer months.

In December 2015 all YVE staff from administration staff to housekeeping, owners and the general manager worked alongside the gardening team; together with a few volunteers; to begin the mammoth task of ‘sheet mulching’ every garden bed. This aids in water retention and decomposition of the beds to ensure premium planting soil.

Drip irrigation was also installed, all irrigation is sourced from an underground bore on the property. Rain sensors within the irrigation system ensure our precious resource of water is used only when required.

Below is an image of ‘before & after’ the garden beds were built up and mulched.

Stage 4: Chook Pen

Building our Chook Pen using re-purposed materials began in early 2016, the concept for a combination of ‘roam free runs and an enclosed safe area that is labour free. The chickens will be able to ‘take themselves to roost’ using a layered post system that foxes cannot climb. A water tank and float system has been installed for fresh supply of water and YVE guests enjoy the eggs fresh from our chickens while they consume our organic waste! This fits our sustainability ethos perfectly. With 40 chickens that ‘roam free’ in long ‘runs’ along with some seed, they enjoy the plants that have gone to seed from the Edible Forest and also fallen fruit from the orchard; a complete cycle!

The ‘pond’ was further dug out to allow for water flow and filled with a powder that sealed the base to eliminate water loss through the ground. A small ‘rock fountain’ for water movement was installed.

Placement of large boulders from the property were re-located into the Edible Forest for interest and seating.

A fence enclosing the Edible Forest was erected. A small rabbit proof fence was also established around the perimeter.

Stage 5: Waiting

A delay in planting due to the time required for the ‘soil’ to break down and become nutrient rich (also for summer to pass) still had many tasks being completed with the pond finished and the hothouse was erected (see below image). The hothouse structure was re-claimed from a neighbouring property; dismantling and erecting at the top of the Edible Forest; another demonstration of re-using rather than purchasing new. The outer cover was installed by a local company. Not only a traditional hothouse for seed germination, but also for growth of specialized plants that require additional warmth that the Yarra Valley cannot supply year-round.

Initial planting began in April 2016 with much excitement. This was to be an ongoing process for 12 months to ensure the selected varieties were given the chance to establish and form the necessary shade and protection for the 2nd stage of planting. The continuing process ensures that as the plants mature, shaded areas are developed. There is also the opportunity to access the growth, development and also the decline of some plants which may be moved to a more suitable position within the Edible Forest.

The ultimate goal will be to have 1000 plants, ranging in maturity, from over 350 different varieties all with their own purpose of being either:

  • Edible
  • Medicinal
  • Nutritional for the soil
  • Bee attracting
  • Companion planting

Netting

Mother nature is kind and also sometimes harsh, not long after the 1st stage of planting was completed, we discovered with heartbreak that cockatoos had destroyed all of the plants. Quick action was required to save the future of the Edible Forest. It was decided to enclose the area with a 7 metre tall netting over the entire ‘Forest Garden’. This was completed in September 2016 and created a magical space that you ‘entered’.

Not quite 1 month later, in October 2016, 100km winds tunnelled through the Yarra Valley and tore apart our netting, bending metal poles and destroying not only the enclosure, but our next planting date. The whole project was put on hold. YVE staff were devastated, all of the hard work was lost with no new plants and birds eating the remaining plants as there was no roof netting to keep them out.

STAGE 6: Final Stage - 2017

While we waited, we were not idle! A ‘teahouse’ was erected at the entrance of the Edible Forest Garden, using old tin, which was recycled. This is part of the nursery, selling plants, preserves and garden items.

Stronger, taller poles were erected for the 2nd attempt to enclose the Edible Forest. This occurred in Jan 2017, being the peak of summer heat we were unable to continue with additional planting until March 2017. Below is an aerial shot of the Edible Forest, complete with hothouse, 4 traditional garden beds at the top of the Edible forest along with the ‘Teahouse’ and the enclosed Chock house with free runs. The paths and seating areas are available for guests to enjoy.

We were thrilled that the Edible Forest supplies the YVE kitchen with fresh, organically grown produce with no food transport miles. It has provided a green space where learning and nutrition are engaging our guests and offering unique opportunities for their own personal growth.

Next consideration is the amount of harvest from the plants – with nutritional rich soil, the plants growth and supply of fruits, seeds, leaves is vast and increasing each year! There was an oversupply that the YVE kitchen would not be able to utilize fresh, therefore it is pickled and preserved to ensure supply throughout the year. A kitchen space was required to handle the process. The YVE kitchen was often unavailable as it was catering to booked functions, conferences & events (the very functions that are enjoying the fresh produce!)

A preserving kitchen was decided to be incorporated into the Edible Forest. But what and where? Why not re-purpose 2 shipping containers and acquire 2nd hand kitchen equipment for this project?  This is exactly what we did, commencing in Sept 2017 we lifted, positioned, cut and joined 2 shipping containers.

Fitting out the ‘kitchen’ space was the next challenge and finding the equipment to re-use was time consuming. Finally it was complete, a year later in October 2018. We are thrilled with the outcome, but why stop there? The ‘Harvest Hub’ (as the container kitchen became known) is a perfect classroom kitchen for corporate guests looking for a unique teambuilding activity while onsite.

Cooking classes were designed with guests often electing to donate the meals created to local homeless; giving back to the community and joining YVE with our philosophy of benefiting others within the community.

Cooking classes are also an opportunity to offer our community the chance to learn and engage with the Edible Forest. These are developed in conjunction with our Edible Forest team and our Executive chef to ensure seasonality and interest for all.

The official launch of our Edible Forest occurred on the 25th November 2018, we were honored to offer the proceeds from the launch to go to one of the charities YVE supports, Global Gardens of Peace with Moira Kelly AO officially opening the Edible Forest with Louise Ward, owner of YVE. A day of tours, learning, engagement, food, music, cooking demonstrations and fun was had by all.

We invite you to come and see what we have created over the years, a passion for gardens, green space, healthy eating and growing our own has developed into an amazing space that has to be seen to be believed.

We welcome you to ‘Be Happy, Be Healthy & Be Inspired’ by our Edible Forest.

STAGE 7: Launch - 2018

On 25th November 2018, Louise Ward, together with Moira Kelly AO; founder of Global Gardens of Peace; officially opened the Edible Forest for everyone who needs a garden to “Be Happy, Be Healthy & Be Inspired”.

Proceeds from the launch were given to one of the charities YVE supports, Global Gardens of Peace. All who attended had a day of tours, learning, engagement, food, music, cooking demonstrations and fun.

We invite you to come and see what we have created over the years, a passion for gardens, green space, healthy eating and growing our own has developed into an amazing space that has to be seen to be believed.

STAGE 8: Edible Forest Open Day

On the 24th November 2019, we opened the gates of the Edible Forest for our first ever community Open Day. The day totally exceeded our expectations, with approximately 1000 people enjoying touring the Edible Forest. The day offered live music, food trucks, local wine and beer tastings, hot air balloon lifts and kids entertainment.

The atmosphere was electric with people wondering through the Edible Forest and discovering so many varieties of plants they had not seen before or didn’t realise that the plants in their backyards were edible! One engaged visitor mentioned ‘I was admiring one particular plant and then discovered so many other interesting plants nearby, I just couldn’t get enough of it’. We were overjoyed with the response from so many guests and hope that those who visited were inspired by what they saw.

Stay tuned for a bigger and better 2020 Edible Forest Open Day!

STAGE 9: Opening of the Edible Forest Nursery

Our Open Day in November 2019 also saw the opening of the Edible Forest plant Nursery.

Visitors can now enjoy a forest tour and then leisurely wander through the plant nursery where they can purchase plants to start an edible garden at home or add to an existing garden.

All propagation is performed onsite by our experienced Edible Forest gardeners. Inspiration and seeds are source from existing plants in the forest. Heat mats are used in our hot house to assist with seed reproduction. Once germinated the embryos are eventually potted and spend time in the hot house to mature, before they are added for sale in our plant nursery.

The Edible forest Nursery is open to the public Monday – Friday from 11am-3pm (Saturday 1pm-3pm).

We look forward to seeing you in the nursery soon!