Plants For A Future

by Ariadne Fern in Penpol, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 19th January 2019 we successfully raised £2,374 with 53 supporters in 56 days

Help us improve facilities and attract more visitors who come to learn about useful plants and the environment.

by Ariadne Fern in Penpol, England, United Kingdom

Plants For A Future

Plants For A Future is a small environmental group run entirely by volunteers. It was established in 1989 when a 28-acre piece of land in Cornwall was purchased as a place to demonstrate the many uses of plants, with a strong emphasis on perennial species.

When we first moved to Cornwall in 1989, our land looked like this.

Now it looks like this.

Our efforts have turned it from a bleak, windswept field of barley stubble, which had thin, compacted soils and very little wildlife, into this beautiful productive, sheltered, tree-covered landscape that is of enormous benefit both for humans and the wildlife we share this land with.

Environmental Impact

Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear another story about global warming, melting of the icecaps, deforestation, species in danger of extinction, and how the negative environmental impact of human activity is contributing to this.

Our project promotes a way of growing food and other commodities in a way that actually enhances the environment. We see a future where farms are no longer large open spaces of grass or other annual crops with very little wildlife. Instead many different and productive perennial species will be grown. Farms of the future will have large areas of productive, food-producing woodland that will be able to feed us and also support the many other species we share this world with.

Our Land has various purposes:

  •     It serves to demonstrate self-sufficiency from a very wide range of trees and other perennials.
  •     It is an Educational Centre where people can come and learn about the plants and how to grow them.
  •     It is a Nature Reserve, teeming with insect life, birds, amphibians and various mammals.
  •     It is a place where people can come and enjoy contact with Nature.

Our Ethos

Central to our ethos is our desire both to acquire information about useful plants and to make this information available as freely as possible to all who can benefit from it. We want to spread the word to as many people as possible that there are harmonious ways of living, and of growing our food, where we try to work with instead of against Nature.

People visit our project from all over the world in order to experience and learn from the land. Many of them stay for a short time as volunteers so that they can deepen their understanding of perennial gardening. The inspiration and information they take with them often enables them to set up their own project.

We try to spread this knowledge as far as we can and, to that end, we have developed two databases of useful plants, one for the temperate zone and one for the tropics. All the information contained within them is made freely available through our website (see Currently (November 2018), there are 20,045 plant entries in these databases.

  • Video made by:
     Check his plantcards here

Most people who visit us are amazed at the way our land has been transformed. We show them how they can do this for themselves, on a scale that can range from a small garden to a large farm. We want to be able to spread this message even further, to empower even more people to begin to make these changes for themselves, and to see more and more woodland gardens being created.

Our work and ability to reach out to people is greatly limited by the lack of facilities we have here. As many of our visitors will attest, facilities here have always been rather primitive.


The only building we have on site is a wooden agricultural shed which we are in the process of renovating and enlarging.

Over the past few years we have been able to raise enough funding to restore 60% of the shed, build a cellar for storing produce from the land, and a lean-to extension for housing tools and machinery.

Ironically, we now have the utter luxury of a (donated) washing machine so that volunteers can keep their clothes clean – but they still have to wash themselves with cold water under a garden hose, or take a walk down to the local creek for a swim.

We are now looking to raise enough money to complete the shed and extension so that we can use part of it as a classroom and Education Centre, provide much-needed improvements to the facilities for the workers and volunteers on the land, and increase the storage space for tools and equipment. We also need to build a new, accessible compost toilet.

We currently have mains electricity on the land, but we are planning to install renewable sources of heat and power, including a passive solar water heated shower.


Having improved facilities will not only make it easier for the people already working the Land, it will also encourage more visitors to come, and extend the visitor season.

It will provide a decent space for us to be able to run courses, classes and open days, so we can reach out to yet more people. It will also be possible to hire out the classroom space for like-minded people to use.

It will enable us to bring broadband to the land and move our plant research here. Over the years this research has blossomed into a massive resource of information on useful plants that is viewed by more than one million people a year.

Not only will these improvements help to spread the word to more people, but they will also help the project to become more financially self-sustaining.

Having these facilities in place will help the whole project to function better, and in turn this will help more people to connect with and care about the Environment.


We will be keeping this page and our Facebook page page up to date with developments as our crowdfunding campaign progresses.

All donations will be used to fund projects on our land. Depending on the amount we raise, these are our priorities:

  • To finish the rebuilding of the shed as a multi-purpose building.
  • To install a new improved accessible compost toilet.
  • To install a workroom/classroom/demonstration area where we can run courses, hold events etc.
  • To finish the lean-to, which stores tools and machinery, liberating the shed for other purposes.
  • To install renewable energy, including solar panels on the shed roof and passive water heating for a shower.
  • To install high-speed broadband to enable research work to be carried out on site and improve connectivity for our volunteers and visitors.

Will you help us?

All donations will be very gratefully received.

Thank you for reading this.

A delicious salad made of leaves flowers and fruits.

A delicious salad made of leaves flowers and fruits.

All donators will be acknowledged on a special page on our website as a permanent thank-you for your support.

if you are involved with an environmental or social project, let us know and we will give it a mention.


Plants for a Future

The Field



PL22 0NG


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

3 of 100 claimed

2019 Calendar

Signed copy of Plants for a Future calendar with images of fruits for each month of the year. Calendars will all be sent in mid December, apart from any pledged after that date.

£7 or more

One Packet of seeds (1)

With plant info and cultivation details. the following are available: Peltaria aliacea; Alliaria petiolata; Decaisnea fargesii; Rosa rugosa; Crataegus pedicellata; Crataegus orientalis (shraderiana)

£7 or more

One Packet of seeds (2)

With plant info and cultivation details. the following are available: Malva moschata; Malva verticillata; Malva alcea; Malva sylvestris; Allium canadense; Allium tuberosum; Allium neopolitanum; Allium vineale Bulbils; Allium ampeloprasum babbingtonii Bulbils; Myrrhis odorata

£10 or more

1 of 20 claimed

Yoga class as part of a group on our land

Outdoors, weather permitting, or in our classroom when it is finished.

£12 or more

Single Yoga class in Fowey

Classes are 10:30 - 12:00 Monday and Friday mornings at the British Legion, Town Quay.

£15 or more

Wild Camping on our land

May - Oct You get to camp in a beautiful orchard or woodland off the beaten track where a great variety of plants and apple varieties abound. The land is very wildlife friendly. There are many beautiful walks and places to swim or canoe in the area. Depending on the season, wild foods, herbs and possibly fruit are also available.£15 per person per night.£70 per person per week. Total pledge must cover money for numbers and duration of stay.

£25 or more

Signed copy of Ken's book

Signed copy of Ken Fern's book: "Plants for a Future - edible and useful plants for a healthier world". Donated by Permanent Publications.

£50 or more

1 of 5 claimed

Individual Yoga class on our land

Outdoors, weather permitting, or in our classroom when it is finished. Individual class. You may bring up to 5 additional people as part of the reward.

£60 or more

Individual tour of our land

The tour is an interesting and informative walk around the land, looking at many edible and other useful plants. It takes around 2 hours. You can bring up to 5 additional people as part of the reward if you wish.

£100 or more

Tour of our land plus individual yoga class

Outdoor yoga class, weather permitting, complete with a full tour of our land. The tour is an interesting and informative walk around the land, looking at many edible and other useful plants. It takes around 2 hours. You can bring up to 5 additional people as part of the reward if you wish.

£150 or more

0 of 15 claimed

A place on our first weekend course

Based around plants and permaculture, the course will take place once the building works are completed, probably summer 2019, but may be delayed till 2020.

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